Rivian hit with gender discrimination lawsuit that alleges toxic ‘bro culture’

Rivian, the electric automaker that recently filed for an IPO, has been sued by a former sales and marketing vice president for alleged gender discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that Laura Schwab, a former sales and marketing executive who had a long employment history with Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin before joining Rivian in November 2020, was fired after reporting gender discrimination to the company’s human resources department. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in California Superior Court in Orange County.

A Rivian spokeswoman told TechCrunch that due to a quiet period ahead of its public offering, the company can’t offer comment.

Schwab also filed a statement of claim with the American Arbitration Association and laid out her allegations in a blog post published on Medium. The AAA statement, viewed by TechCrunch, describes a “toxic bro culture” at the company’s highest levels. The lawsuit alleges that Schwab was regularly ignored by her superior when trying to point out problems. She was regularly excluded from meetings attended by her male peers and decisions regarding her team were made without her input, the statement says. The AAA statement also says¬†that her concerns regarding “Rivian’s misleading public statements and flawed business practices,” were dismissed.¬†

When she spoke up to human resources about “the boys’ club culture and gender discrimination she was experiencing from a C-level executive, Rivian abruptly fired her,” the statement reads.

In one excerpt on the blog, Schwab wrote:

Rivian publicly boasts about its culture, so it was a crushing blow when I joined the company and almost immediately experienced a toxic bro culture that marginalizes women and contributes to the company making mistakes. I raised concerns to HR about the gender discrimination from my manager, the “boys club” culture, and the impact it was having on me, my team, and the company. Two days later, my boss fired me.

The complaint comes as Amazon-backed Rivian prepares to become a publicly traded company in one of the most anticipated debuts of the year. A recent regulatory filing showed Rivian hoped to raise up $8.4 billion in its initial public offering. The company plans to offer 135 million shares at a price between $57 and $62. Underwriters also have an option to buy up to 20.25 million additional shares. If underwriters exercise that option, Rivian would raise as much as $9.6 billion.

Based on the number of outstanding shares, that would put its market valuation at about $53 billion. If employee stock options and other restricted shares are considered, Rivian’s valuation could be as high as $60 billion. Rivian filed October 1 to become a publicly traded company in the United States.