Ex-Aston Martin executive says Rivian fired her for raising concerns about a ‘toxic bro culture’

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  • Laura Schwab, who joined Rivian from Aston Martin at the end of last year, sued the electric vehicle start-up on Thursday, claiming that it was “toxic” for raising concerns about the company’s “toxic” workplace culture. Later he was fired.
  • Rivian declined to comment on Schwab’s post and allegations, citing its IPO quiet period.
  • Schwab, who previously served as Aston Martin’s US division president, was appointed as Rivian’s first vice president of sales and marketing last November.

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A former female executive at Rivian is suing the electric vehicle start-up, claiming she was fired for raising concerns about the company having a “toxic sibling culture.”

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Laura Schwab, who joined Rivian from Aston Martin late last year, described the company as an “old boys’ club” in which female executives such as herself were excluded and marginalized from important meetings. According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday. California Superior Court in Orange County. Schwab also filed a statement of claims with the American Arbitration Association.

Schwab alleged that she was fired from Rivian last month after complaining to HR about the company’s “toxic” work culture and the marginalization of female executives from important meetings. Schwab also claimed that the company dismissed concerns raised regarding Rivian’s business.

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“Rivian boasts publicly about its culture, so it was a crushing blow when I joined the company and almost immediately experienced a toxic fraternal culture that marginalizes women and mistakes the company. contributes to,” Schwab said in a Medium post published on Thursday Afternoon. “I expressed concerns to my manager about gender discrimination, the ‘boys club’ culture, and the impact it has on me, my team, and the company. Two days later, my boss fired me.”

Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast declined to comment on Schwab’s post and allegations. It cited the company’s quiet period restrictions as part of its IPO, which it filed in August. The company is expected to list on Nasdaq early next week.

Schwab, who previously served as Aston Martin’s US division president, was appointed as Rivian’s first vice president of sales and marketing last November. She was a high-profile addition to the company after a 20-year career with the renowned British luxury brand as well as Jaguar Land Rover.

In his lawsuit, Schwab claimed that Rivian violated California’s labor code, damaged his reputation and “did not invest millions of dollars in him on the eve of the company’s IPO.” Schwab said that at the time he was offered employment, he was offered a $360,000 basic salary, a 40% bonus, a $4,000 per month stipend, a $100,000 sign-on bonus, and $1.5 million in equity. Grievance.

Sources previously told Businesshala that Rivian, which is backed by Amazon and Ford, is expected to be valued at more than $60 billion in an IPO, which could take place as early as next week. Rivian is developing a last-mile commercial delivery van for Amazon and recently began production on its highly anticipated electric pickup, the R1T.

According to the lawsuit, Schwab informed Jiten Behl. Bahl, a former principal at consulting firm Roland Berger, oversees Rivian’s customer-focused teams across the business, including brand, sales and marketing, according to the company’s website.

Schwab said he expressed concerns about Rivian’s “ability to deliver on its promises to investors” to Bahl and other executives including product management director Stuart Dixon and chief product manager Andy Ziychek, which were rejected. The lawsuit says it was also instructed not to voice its concerns to Rvian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe.

Schwab said he had warned officials that Rivian’s vehicles were undervalued but were denied. The lawsuit states that Bahl later agreed that Rivian would need to raise vehicle prices after a male executive raised the issue with him.

Schwab said it had also expressed doubts about Rivian’s manufacturing and distribution goals during sales and operations meetings in September. rivian revealed last week It plans to distribute 1,000 R1T by the end of the year in the revised securities filing.

‘No one listened’

In her blog post, Schwab said she was “excited” to join Rivian, but that enthusiasm quickly turned to feelings of marginalization following perceived patterns of exclusion among the company’s top male executives.

“Despite my 20 years of auto experience and my position as VP of Sales and Marketing, I have been excluded from important meetings that impacted our mission and my team,” Schwab wrote. “Time and time again, I raised concerns about vehicle pricing and build deadlines, but no one listened, even though I had extensive experience with launch and pricing vehicles. Not until my (often less experienced) male colleagues raised the exact same views that chief commercial officers would respond. Never in my years in the auto industry had I experienced such marginalization.”

Schwab alleged that his boss said the reason for his dismissal was a “big ‘restructuring’.” Schwab argues that though she was the only one to “reorganize”.

“I pointed out that there was no coincidence between my firing and my raising concerns about brother culture and gender discrimination two days ago,” he said. “The person I flagged as promoting a discriminatory culture was the person who terminated me.”

Businesshala contacted Schwab, whose attorney David Lowe responded on his behalf. In a release, Lowe said, “Schwab is determined to hold Rivian accountable for his bad behavior.”

Lowe’s San Francisco-based firm, Rudy, Axelrod, Ziff & Lowe LLP, previously represented a former chief operating officer at Pinterest, last year settled him Gender-discrimination and wrongful termination case against social media company for $22.5 million.

Lowe’s law firm represented former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao in its gender discrimination lawsuit against top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Pao, who brought a complaint against the venture capital firm while she was a partner, lost the discrimination lawsuit.

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