A sex discrimination lawsuit between a local health startup and one of its former employees is headed for potential settlement.
Filings in Richmond federal court show that Iggbo, a Henrico-based company launched in 2015 with an Uber-like business model to simplify the blood-drawing process, is scheduled for a mediation session Tuesday with its former VP of operations Janis Rosenberg, who sued the company last month.
Rosenberg’s suit, filed Oct. 12, claims sex discrimination by the company after she allegedly never received a promised equity stake in the firm. The lawsuit claims that situation was fueled by alleged sexual harassment from the company’s now-deceased president and co-founder.
Rosenberg, who is now COO at locally based Creo Wellness, also is suing Iggbo CEO Nuno Valentine and chief medical officer Shaival Kapadia for defamation. Her initial complaint did not specify the amount of damages sought.
The settlement conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the chambers of Magistrate Judge Roderick Young.
An Oct. 31 court order from United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson states the case “is before the Court at the request of the parties for early mediation,” and that the litigation is on hold while the mediation plays out.
On Nov. 1, an order from Young was filed outlining the procedures. Each party was required to submit a memorandum to the court, which are kept confidential.
Iggbo, which has said it was conducting an investigation into the matters alleged in the lawsuit, provided a statement Monday afternoon through attorney Tom Roberts of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates.
“Rosenberg complains of sexual harassment and retaliation. The company and Valentine (and Kapadia) deny these allegations,” Roberts said in an email.
Roberts’ emailed statement also questions Rosenberg’s allegations that she took her complaints of harassment to the supervisor who was allegedly harassing her, former president and cofounder Mark Van Roekel. Roberts said Rosenberg managed human resources at Iggbo, which included development of the employee handbook. His email included several passages from the employee handbook.
Roberts said Rosenberg should have known that she was free to report her concerns to people other than her supervisor.
“Reading the policy to approve reporting sexual harassment to the alleged harasser, who she said was her supervisor, makes as much sense as reporting it to herself, since she was VP of operations,” Roberts added.
He said Iggbo decided to enter mediation because it is “an effective way to cause people to resolve misunderstandings and to resolve cases without wasting countless hours in litigation.”
“Iggbo’s business is provision of modern healthcare coordination, not obtaining a verdict that dismisses lawsuit claims. The sooner that it directs all of its resources towards its business rather than defending these claims the better,” Roberts said.
Initial court filings listed James Thorsen and Jesse Roche of Thorsen Hart & Allen as Rosenberg’s lawyers. Thorsen could not be reached for comment by press time.