Former CIBC Banker Wins Appeal Claiming He Was Discriminated Against For Being A Straight Man

A former employee of Canadian bank CIBC won an appeal to have his discrimination complaint reassessed this week, according to a federal court.

The employee's claim? That he was told he had "no hope" of a promotion because he was straight. 

Previously, the Canadian Human Rights Commission had dismissed Aaren Jagadeesh's claim that he was subject to discrimination due to his sexual orientation as a straight man, according to the Daily Mail. Jagadeesh was turned down for multiple promotions and said he was told by his boss to join a "group" of gay and bisexual men in the office, as only they would get promoted. 

Madam Justice Janet M. Fuhrer ruled in Federal Court that the Commission wrongly tossed Jagadeesh's lawsuit and ordered a new investigation and reassessment as a result. Last month in court, Jagadeesh described how, in a 2015 meeting, his boss told him that every manager in the company was gay or bisexual and there was "no hope" of him becoming a manager unless he joined this group.

Jagadeesh also claims that the boss told him to "be smart and learn" after explaining that sexual orientation was the reason why young male employees were being promoted ahead of him.

That manager is now on "extended leave of absence". 

He also claimed the male employees were being sexually exploited in order to gain promotions, explaining how the incident impacted his "mental stress and self-dignity". 

Jagadeesh received a disability diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia several months into his job, which caused him pain in his throat and vocal chords. He was told by a doctor to take medical breaks from his role as a telephone sales representative. His job required him to speak to 60 to 70 customers a day for less than 30 seconds each to hit his targets. His medical breaks made this impossible.

CIBC fired him on May 10, 2016, after the workplace refused to accommodate his disability, he claims. The bank claims he was fired for being unqualified. Jagadeesh said he applied for 17 other roles with the company and was turned down. 

The Canadian Human Rights Commission first dismissed his case last November after an investigator refused to go forward with allegations of discrimination for being straight after concluding the company had accommodated Jagadeesh's disability. 

Crystal Jongeward, a senior consultant of public affairs for the bank, said: "While we are unable to comment as the matter is still before the commission, no form of harassment or discrimination is acceptable at our bank."

Jagadeesh represented himself in his appeal to the Federal Court, claiming that the previous investigation ignored key evidence proving discrimination. The court then found that the initial investigator had not followed procedure and ruled the case be open with a new investigator. Jagadeesh was awarded $3,332.30 from CIBC for the time and expenses incurred during the appeal.