Rivian Automotive Inc. has been sued by a former executive who claims she was subjected to gender discrimination while working for the electric truck maker. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in a California Superior Court in Orange County, according to court documents.
After leaving Aston Martin in November 2020, Laura Schwab took up the position of vice president of sales and marketing at Rivian. Her resume is impressive, having been the first female president of Aston Martin for 108 years. According to a Bloomberg article, Schwab’s compensation from Rivian was hefty, with a base salary of $360,000, a 40 percent sign-on bonus, a $4,000 monthly stipend, a $100,000 sign-on bonus, and $1.5 million in equity in the form of restricted stock units.
According to the former executive, however, her Rivian experience was less than ideal. Schwab claimed that she was fired by the firm abruptly after complaining about a “textbook example of gender bias” and mistreatment from a high-level official. The former executive alleged that Rivian breached California’s labor code by tarnishing her reputation, causing emotional suffering, and breaching its duty of trust. She also said that her termination cost her “millions of dollars in unvested equity on the verge of the firm’s IPO.”
According to the complaint, Schwab was excluded from meetings and prevented from participating in business decision-making despite her extensive experience in the automobile sector. She also stated that Rivian’s Chief Commercial Officer made decisions about her team “without her input but with input from men on different teams,” and disregarded her reasonable concerns regarding Rivian’s deceptive public statements and unethical business methods. Her warnings about company vehicle pricing, as well as delivery goals, were allegedly overlooked as well.
Taking to Medium to express her view on the issue:
“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.
“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 Growth Officer (internally called Chief Commercial Officer) would respond. Never in my years in the auto industry had I experienced such blatant marginalization,” Schwab explained.
The lawsuit has yet to elicit a response from Rivian, with spokesperson Amy Mast stating that the company’s quiet period is for its anticipated IPO.