Roughly 4,000 current and former employees had the option of participating, and each one who did will get about $500 or as much as $2,000. Their lawyers, meanwhile, will walk away with $1.3 million.
California law requires rest periods for employees every four hours, along with breaks for meals. SpaceX's shifts were designed such that workers couldn't take these breaks, but were also not paid more for working these hours instead of resting.
Legal blog Law360 goes into more detail about the original complaints:
In April 2015, named plaintiff Sebring Whitaker filed his own suit, also alleging that SpaceX didn't adequately pay him and similar nonexempt employees for normal and overtime work and didn't adequately provide required meal and rest breaks.
And in October, named plaintiff Stan Saporito filed his own suit alleging the company doesn't provide enough labor hours to its workers for everything that needs to get done, then requires them to work off the clock to finish tasks.
It's doubtful that a $4 million payout will compel Musk to change much about how he runs his businesses. But at some point the market might do that for him. If he continues to pay his SpaceX interns only half of what Facebook does — about $4,000 a month as compared to the $8,000 a month Zuckerberg's most junior employees make, according to the anonymous employer ranking site Glassdoor — he could lose talented prospects to companies in Silicon Valley.
Indeed, a full-time SpaceX employee, who enthuses about the "dynamic work," "great people" and benefits on Glassdoor, mentions "base salary" as a drawback, saying it "could be more competitive."
But the allure of working for one of the boldest and most cutting-edge employers in the world remains. The company made Glassdoor's 2017 list of the Best Places to Work. SpaceX has a positive 4.4 rating out of 5 on the site, and its CEO has an approval rating of 98 percent. As one SpaceX intern writes, "Everyone is a fanboy and Musk's word is law."
Editor's Note: On May 19, this article was updated with corrections and a statement from a SpaceX company spokesman.
See also: What it's like being an intern at Elon Musk's SpaceX and Tesla