Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, is representing a man who claims he was wrongfully terminated by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) after blowing the whistle on his managers for pressuring test technicians to deviate from written procedures and to sign off on tests that had not been performed per protocol.
The man who filed the complaint, Jason Blasdell, had served at the rocket and spacecraft manufacturer’s Hawthorne headquarters since 2010 as an Avionics Test Technician. He received consistently positive reviews from management for his work but he began noticing safety issues related to the testing procedures of rocket parts, which led him to question the quality of the testing and the risks it posed for not just the rockets potentially exploding, but for the potential loss of human life as well.
According to Blasdell’s complaint, he was terminated from his employment after he blew the whistle to HR, the company’s president and, ultimately, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, regarding a series of potentially dangerous deviations from protocol that his managers were pressuring test technicians to make.
Specifically, Blasdell complained that SpaceX’s failure to properly mark and serialize parts made it impossible for him to research each part’s possible history of failure, which could potentially lead to the wrong part or a faulty part being put on a rocket. He also complained that his managers were implementing practices that led to a culture in the test lab of ignoring procedures and deviating from protocols in order to pass tests through and not hold up production. He reported that he and other employees were pressured to falsify testing procedures to make it look like they were following specific testing requirements when in fact they had not.
According to the complaint, shortly after Blasdell attempted to blow the whistle to the highest levels of the SpaceX organization regarding these issues, he was told by the company’s Human Resources department that he was being terminated “for being disruptive.”
“During the duration of Mr. Blasdell’s employment at SpaceX, he was consistently rated by his management as ‘excellent,’ and received merit-based raises based on his performance,” said Shegerian. “He was even the recipient of the company’s ‘SpaceX Kick Ass Award’ for performing above and beyond the requirements of his position. This all changed, once he did the right thing and reported a potentially dangerous and even life-threatening deviation from protocols.”
“Unfortunately, what we’ve got here is a classic whistleblower case where an honest, hard-working test technician has been spurned for doing his job diligently and making ethical recommendations that were not popular with management and followed by the unceremonious, retaliatory, wrongful termination of our client from his duties,” added Shegerian. “Retaliation – and the wrongful termination – of employees who are considered whistleblowers remains a huge ethical problem that simply must stop. It’s our job to help Mr. Blasdell seek justice and hopefully make a public statement that this kind of wrongful termination – in any workplace – cannot be tolerated.”
(Case no. BC615112)
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