Former SpaceX Worker, 63, Ties Firing to Age, Medical Condition

SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A 63-year-old man is suing SpaceX, alleging he left a good job at H3Harris to take a position at the Hawthorne-based firm only to be fired earlier this year because of his age and medical condition.

Robert Grandchamp's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges wrongful termination, age and disability discrimination, failure to prevent age discrimination and defamation. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Wednesday.

A SpaceX representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

Grandchamp was hired as a source inspector in November 2017 after having previously worked at L3Harris as a  mechanical/electrical lead inspector, according to the suit.

``Plaintiff's decision to leave L3Harris, where he contributed to working on military communications, was very difficult, to put it mildly,'' the suit states. ``Plaintiff was really torn about leaving a job only nine miles from his house that plaintiff felt he could continue to work until he retired.''

But Grandchamp believed that working for SpaceX would give him the opportunity to help bring U.S. astronauts back to space and to be a part of the team that would make such an accomplishment possible, the suit states. His first three years there ``were like a big dream'' and included training on warp drive and the systems and procedures, according to the suit.

But after the third year, a new manager told Grandchamp in June 2020 that he was ``too high on the pay chart'' and that human resources had ``sent ... a wage warning,'' the suit states. Grandchamp also was told he would not be eligible for a raise that year, the suit alleges.

Grandchamp also was given low ratings in avionics and safety despite his certifications, the suit states. When he confronted the manager about the ratings, the latter replied that he did not get a wage increase that year either, the suit states.

Matters did not improve when a new boss arrived in June 2021 and did not show Grandchamp how he could improve his skills matrix scores or sound receptive to the plaintiff's ideas for the company, the suit states.

Grandchamp was fired on Jan. 25, the suit states. When he asked his manager why he was losing his job, the boss ``looked like a deer in headlights'' and answered that the plaintiff was being fired ``with cause,'' but provided no explanation, the suit states.

Grandhcamp had never received a written work performance warning during his more than four years at SpaceX, but he was the oldest source inspector in California, the suit states.

``The combination of plaintiff's advanced age, high compensation and medical condition proved to be more than (SpaceX) wanted to deal with in an employee...,'' the suit alleges.

The majority of SpaceX source inspectors who continued working after Grandchamp was fired were much younger than him, according to his suit, which also alleges his firing was tied in part to his blood-clotting condition that prohibits him from taking nasal swab coronavirus tests required by SpaceX.

Grandchamp signed on to his SpaceX stock account in early February and found that 40,000 shares in unvested stock had disappeared without any compensation in return, the suit states.

During Grandchamp's post-firing state Employment Development Department hearing, he found out that SpaceX said his firing was related to allegations of negative work performance and misconduct that had occurred in 2020, allegations which the plaintiff maintains are false and defamatory.

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