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Two more ex-employees file harassment, discrimination lawsuits against Rivian

Exterior of the Rivian plant 2024
Emily Bollinger
The electric automaker Rivian makes its electric trucks, SUVs and delivery vans in Normal.

Two more former employees have filed federal lawsuits against the electric automaker Rivian, alleging they faced harassment and discrimination while on the job in Normal.

The new lawsuits were filed March 12 and April 23, by the same Lombard law firm that filed three previous lawsuits with similar allegations. Those three cases have since been resolved, though the terms of any settlements have not been disclosed.

One of the new lawsuits comes from a Black former packer from Tazewell County who worked at the Rivian plant in Normal for less than two months in 2023. The packer claimed that a white co-worker called him the N-word, and that a male co-worker made sexually inappropriate remarks toward him, according to the lawsuit. The packer claimed Rivian “failed (to) conduct a prompt and thorough investigation” into the claims of racial and sexual harassment and discrimination – and instead fired the packer.

The other new lawsuit comes from a Black former group leader who worked at Rivian for about two years. He claimed he was hired under a contract that offered unlimited time off, only to be reprimanded and put on a “performance improvement plan” for excessive absences, according to the lawsuit. The former group leader said white co-workers with more absences were not subjected to that, calling it “blatant racial discrimination.”

Rivian has not yet formally answered the new complaints in court. The company did not respond to WGLT’s requests for comment.

Other lawsuits

This is at least the seventh and eighth federal lawsuits filed against Rivian alleging a hostile workplace inside the Normal plant, according to a WGLT tally. Five have been filed by the same firm, Sulaiman Law Group, aka Atlas Consumer Law, based in Lombard.

Three of those Sulaiman lawsuits have already been resolved. The most recent case to reach settlement happened April 2. That was a lawsuit filed by a woman who worked in Rivian’s battery department for 16 months. She claimed she was subjected to “severe and pervasive harassment based on her gender, resulting in a hostile work environment,” which Rivian denied.

The woman agreed to dismiss her lawsuit, with both sides paying their own attorney’s fees, court records show. The terms of any settlement in the Sulaiman cases were not disclosed.

Rivian faces two pending sexual harassment and discrimination cases involving former Normal employees, which were not filed by Sulaiman.

The company also faces a separate age-discrimination lawsuit from a Southern Illinois man who, at age 65, claimed he was “singled out for ridiculous criticisms” related to his age while working as a senior safety engineer in Normal. The plaintiff, representing himself, said he was accused of using a racial slur on Rivian property, according to his lawsuit. He said that stemmed from a conversation about his own father’s military experience that was misconstrued, the lawsuit said.

Rivian makes electric trucks, SUVs and delivery vans in Normal, where it employs around 8,000 people. It is McLean County’s second-largest employer.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.