Rivian accused of ‘toxic bro culture’ in gender discrimination lawsuit

Rivians, an EV startup, has filed a lawsuit against Amazon-backed for discrimination. The suit comes just days before Rivian will become a publicly traded company and only weeks after it began delivering its first electric cars to customers.
Laura Schwab, a former vice president, claims she was fired last month for alerting a human resource executive about discrimination. According to the WSJ she sued the company in Orange County Superior Court. However, the complaint was not made public at the time this article was published. Scwhab published a blog post Thursday entitled Life Outside the Boys Club - Why I Spoke Up about Rivians Toxic Bro Culture and Got Fired

Rivian's spokesperson declined to comment citing the mandatory silence period during the IPO.

Schwab, who has been in the automotive industry for over 20 years, joined Rivian in November 2020. In the blog post, Schwab says she was excited to join a company building a brand and planet-minded cars from the ground up. Schwab also writes that she experienced a toxic bro culture almost immediately and was marginalized by the company.

Men at the top dominate

Scwab claims she raised concerns with HR about gender discrimination by my manager, the boys club culture and its impact on me, my team and the company.

Rivian is dominated at the top by men, and CEO RJ Scaringe was surrounded with tight knit men who always had his ear. Scwhab says. She claims she made suggestions regarding the company's business plan, which were rejected. However, it was only after that that the men at the top accepted the same ideas as her male colleagues. She writes that she has never experienced such obvious marginalization in her years of working in the auto industry.

Schwab stated that she tried to raise the issues with her boss, Rivians chiefcommercial officer, but was unable to arrange a meeting. She said that she was beginning to be excluded from other planning meetings. She asked another female senior executive for help in including her. Her colleague told me she was also excluded.

She writes that it is amazing that two female high-ranking executives would be excluded from meetings directly impacting their work. Rivian was proud of this culture, so I felt that it was unacceptable that two high-ranking female executives would be excluded from these meetings directly impacting their work. Schwab claims that the chief commercial officer finally set up a meeting with Schwab, but she was fired. He claimed that it was part of a company reorganization.

Scwhab's account of her time at Rivian is a result of employees in the tech industry speaking out more frequently and with greater frequency. Apple employees have been organizing and bringing to the light stories of harassment and discrimination for the past few months. After speaking up internally, a whistleblower at Facebook gave documents to journalists around the globe and to Congress.

Ifeoma Ozoma, a former employee of Pinterest, started a reckoning in the company in 2020. She shared her personal experience with racial prejudice and launched the Tech Worker Handbook to help employees confront wrongdoing. In late 2020, Pinterest settled a case involving gender discrimination with its former chief operational officer. The WSJ reports that the former chief operating officer was represented by the same firm as Scwhabs.

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