Electric transport startup Rivian has been sued by one of its former employees. Per The Wall Street Journal, Laura Schwab, an executive who was a vice president of sales and marketing at the automaker until last month, filed a gender discrimination complaint with the California Superior Court in Orange County on Thursday. In the lawsuit, Schwab alleges she was fired by Rivian after she complained of a “toxic ‘bro culture’” that saw other executives exclude her from meetings and ignore her advice.
“The culture at Rivian was actually the worst I’ve experienced in over 20 years in the automotive industry,” Schwab told The Journal. A veteran of the automotive industry, Schwab held executive posts at Aston Martin Lagonda and Jaguar Land Rover before she joined Rivian in November 2020.
According to the outlet, Schwab tried to push the company to address numerous concerns while she was there. In one instance, she allegedly tried to tell the other executives on Rivian’s leadership team that the company had underpriced its vehicles. In yet another situation, she tried to raise concerns about the quality of the automaker’s manufacturing process. In the former case, the company allegedly initially dismissed her advice only to later follow through on it after a male executive raised the same issue.
The suit comes ahead of Rivian’s planned IPO next week where the company will seek to raise as much as $9.6 billion in additional investment. It also recently started producing R1T trucks for customers. More broadly, the suit comes as several other companies in the tech space face scrutiny over their gender equality practices. Most notably, there’s Activision Blizzard, which was sued by California’s fair employment regulator in July for fostering what it described as a sexist “frat boy” workplace culture. The fallout from that lawsuit has been far-reaching. Following months of pressure from employees, the company ended its policy of forced arbitration in cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination and put in place a zero-tolerance stance toward harassment.
Citing the quiet period ahead of its IPO, Rivian declined to comment on the complaint.