Arrests made during Carytown protest

Lawsuit details ‘sexually hostile work environment’ at Richmond startup

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RICHMOND, Va. — In the wake of the sudden death of one of its co-founders, a fast-rising Richmond startup is being sued by a former employee who claims she was the victim of a “sexually hostile work environment” and discrimination, fueled largely by the alleged advances of the now-deceased executive, RichmondBizSense reported.

Iggbo, which launched in 2015 with an Uber-like business model to simplify the blood-drawing process, was sued earlier this month by former vice president of operations Janis Rosenberg on counts of sex discrimination, retaliation, discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, and breach of contract for an equity share of the company she says she was promised but never received.

Rosenberg, who resigned in April, filed suit against the Henrico-based tech startup in Richmond Federal Court on Oct. 12.

Rosenberg’s suit also names as defendants Iggbo CEO Nuno Valentine and chief medical officer Shaival Kapadia on a count of defamation.

The dispute, according to a 26-page filing, “arises from the sexually hostile work environment created by the continuous and extreme sexual harassment of (Rosenberg) by her direct supervisor, Mark Van Roekel.”

Van Roekel, who had been president and co-founder of the firm, died in March. The lawsuit states Van Roekel’s death was by suicide, committed in a motel room in Winchester three days after Rosenberg filed an internal complaint of sexual harassment against him.

Rosenberg began working at Iggbo in January 2015, after nearly two years in senior positions at the former Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

According to the suit, she accepted a lower salary than what she earned at HDL on the basis that she would receive an equity share of Iggbo, to be determined two months after her hiring. Rosenberg reported directly to Van Roekel.

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NOTE: Iggbo spokesman Paul Spicer said in an email to BizSense: “Iggbo is committed to creating a diverse and respectful workplace culture. We take any allegations of a hostile work environment extremely seriously and are continuing to conduct a detailed investigation. Iggbo places the highest priority on fair treatment of all employees.”

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