Home Featured Former CIBC worker, who alleged discrimination for being a heterosexual man, loses human rights challenge

Former CIBC worker, who alleged discrimination for being a heterosexual man, loses human rights challenge

by HR Law Canada

The Federal Court has refused an application for judicial review of a human rights ruling from a former CIBC worker who claimed he was discriminated against because he was a heterosexual man.

The worker, AJ, said his sexual orientation — along with a disability — were behind the bank’s decision to terminate his employment.

AJ was hired by CIBC in June 2014 as a financial services representative. He said he developed severe throat and vocal cord pain due to the demands of his job, which included making a high volume of customer calls and reciting lengthy legal disclosures during these calls.

In February 2015, he requested accommodation to work in a capacity other than speaking on the phone with customers. Following a medical examination by CIBC’s corporate physician and a specialist’s diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia, AJ alleged that the bank began discriminatory treatment soon after confirming his disability.

His complaint included various allegations, such as the refusal of accommodation requests, placement on short-term disability, pay cuts, denial of incentives and bonuses, threats of disciplinary action for medical breaks, manipulation of performance statistics, and alleged attempts to terminate his employment.

Furthermore, AJ claimed that despite applying for 17 other positions within CIBC, he was only offered the call centre position. He also mentioned that his manager had implied that joining a specific “group” was essential for career advancement within the organization.

AJ’s complaint asserted that CIBC’s actions caused financial and emotional harm, rendering him unable to work in phone-based positions and ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. He claimed that CIBC refused to provide a reference and falsified his record of employment.

After filing a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in April 2017, an investigator conducted an initial investigation from July 2017 to July 2018, recommending the dismissal of his complaint in August 2018. Challenging this decision, AJ’s application for judicial review was granted in September 2019. The court found the initial investigation and decision procedurally unfair, prompting a fresh investigation with a different investigator.

The Commission appointed a new investigator, and the results and analysis were presented in the Report for Decision in September 2021. The Commission’s decision on March 15, 2022, following this second investigation, is the subject of this judicial review.

The Federal Court examined a number of aspects of the Commission’s ruling, including procedural fairness. It ruled that AJ had not established that the decision was unreasonable.

“(AJ’s) complaint referred to alleged discriminatory actions that ultimately led to his termination in September 2015,” the Federal Court said. “To the extent that allegations were raised in the complaint and within the Commission’s purview, the Officer thoroughly investigated them, and explained her findings in a comprehensive report. (AJ) disagrees with these findings, but he has not established a reviewable error.”

The application was dismissed. CIBC sought costs, and asked the court to decide on an appropriate column under the Tariff. AJ requested an opportunity to make cost submissions in writing.

The court ordered CIBC to deliver its written submission on costs in 15 days, and then gave AJ 15 days after receiving CIBC’s submissions to respond.

For more information, see Jagadeesh v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 2023 FC 1311 (CanLII)

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