SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has defended her boss Elon Musk against allegations of sexual harassment, reportedly telling employees that she does not believe them to be true.
Ms Shotwell – the highest ranking woman at the company – sent an email to all SpaceX employees titled “The recent news story”, according to news sites CNBC and The Verge, in which she defended the billionaire.
“Personally, I believe the allegations to be false; not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations,” she wrote.
“Anyone who knows Elon like I do, knows he would never conduct or condone this alleged inappropriate behaviour.”
Ms Shotwell, who is also SpaceX’s chief operating officer, stressed: “Every accusation of harassment is taken very seriously, regardless of who is involved. For privacy reasons I will never comment on any legal matters involving employment issues.”
The billionaire has denied the claims he sexually harassed a flight attendant on his private jet in 2016, tweeting the claim was being made by a “liar” and that it was “utterly untrue”.
It comes as Musk expressed support for receiving a discount on his Twitter bid equal to the percentage of users who are spambots.
Business Insider reported that SpaceX made an out-of-court settlement with the flight attendant.
Shortly after the story broke, Mr Musk tweeted that his other company, Tesla, was “building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate [and] execute lawsuits” and invited applicants to email him.
Speaking to Business Insider, the billionaire claimed there was “a lot more to this story” about the sexual harassment and tweeted that it was a “politically motivated hit piece”.
He said if he were the kind of boss that was inclined to engage in sexual harassment, it is unlikely the alleged event onboard his private jet would be the first time in his career that it came to light.