Former Rivian executive suing EV startup over gender discrimination

Rivian’s first production vehicle is the R1T electric pickup.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

A former Rivian executive is suing the electric vehicle startup over gender discrimination, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Laura Schwab, Rivian’s former VP of sales and marketing, published a blog post Thursday detailing the company’s “toxic bro culture,” which she alleges led to her wrongful termination.

“The bro culture affected how the most important decisions were being made at the company,” Schwab wrote in her post on Medium. “Despite my 20 years of auto experience, and my position as VP of sales and marketing, I was excluded from crucial meetings that impacted our mission and my team. Time and time again, I raised concerns regarding vehicle pricing and manufacturing deadlines, but no one listened, even though I have extensive experience launching and pricing vehicles. It wasn’t until my (often less experienced) male colleagues raised the exact same ideas that the chief commercial officer would respond. Never in my years in the auto industry had I experienced such blatant marginalization.”

Schwab says she was fired by Rivian’s chief commercial officer two days after raising these discrimination concerns to the company’s human resources department. “The reason he gave for the termination? This was part of a larger ‘reorganization,’ but I was the only person ‘reorganized.'”

Furthermore, Schwab noted in her Medium post that other female executives were being treated similarly. “I asked another female senior executive to please include me in meetings regarding sales planning and volumes, which were key to my work leading the sales and marketing organization,” Schwab wrote. “I was stunned when she informed me that she was also excluded from these meetings, which were key to her role as well.”

Schwab’s lawsuit was filed in the California Superior Court in Orange County, The Wall Street Journal reported. Schwab also filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association. These allegations surface ahead of Rivian’s planned initial public offering next week.

Rivian is unable to comment on this matter “due to the structures imposed by our quiet period” ahead of the company’s IPO, a spokesperson said in an email.

Schwab joined Rivian in November 2020. Before that, she held positions within Jaguar Land Rover and eventually became president of Aston Martin in North America — the company’s first female president in its 108-year history.

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