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Lawsuit Blasts EV Startup’s Business Plans, ‘Toxic’ Culture

A former executive said the company’s culture was the worst she’d ever seen.

Electric truck and SUV startup Rivian is becoming a publicly traded company this week in what could be one of the largest initial public offerings in history.

But while investors bet that the company could become the next major player in the electric vehicle sector, the company is facing potentially thorny legal issues from within its own ranks.

A former sales and marketing vice president on Thursday filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Rivian in a California court, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Laura Schwab joined the company in November of 2020 and departed in October. In the complaint, she alleges that she was fired after raising concerns about a “toxic ‘bro culture’” that excluded her and other women from vital meetings. She told the Journal that in more than 20 years in the auto industry, Rivian was the worst she’d experienced.

Other details included in the lawsuit, however, could be even more problematic for the company. Schwab said that the company’s culture meant that Rivian initially ignored concerns that she raised about the company’s business plans, including issues with vehicle pricing, delivery targets and manufacturing quality.

She said the issues surrounding vehicle quality and pricing were eventually addressed — the latter after a male executive raised them — but declined to provide additional information to the Journal, citing nondisclosure agreements.

Rivian, meanwhile, said that it was prevented from commenting due to a mandatory quiet period before Tuesday’s scheduled IPO. The company now hopes to be valued at up to $65 billion and could raise as much as $10 billion.

Rivian says it plans to begin customer deliveries of its first vehicle, the R1T pickup, in coming weeks.

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