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Bank manager told straight employee he would only be promoted if he was gay or bisexual

Lily Wakefield December 10, 2019
CIBC bank manager allegedly said employees had to be gay or bisexual to be promoted

The CIBC bank manager allegedly said employees had to be gay or bisexual to be promoted. (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A former employee of a major bank has claimed that he was told by his boss that he had “no hope” for promotion because he was not gay or bisexual.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Aaren Jagadeesh worked as a financial services representative for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in Toronto.

He claimed that he was denied promotions 17 times because he is straight, and was told he in a one-to-one meeting with his manager in 2015 that he had “no hope” unless he joined a “group” of gay and bisexual men.

The manager allegedly said that this was why young male employees were promoted, and that Jagadeesh should “be smart and learn”. Jagadeesh said that the incident negatively impacted his “mental stress and self-dignity”.

He also said that because he had to be on the phone so much for his work, he developed severe throat and vocal cord pain which was diagnosed as a voice disorder called muscle tension dysphonia. A doctor suggested modified duties, but he was asked by the bank to go on short-term disability.

Jagadeesh said the alleged discrimination against him because of his sexual orientation began shortly after his diagnosis, and that he was threatened with discipline if he took medically advised breaks.

He was fired in May 2016, and in April 2017 he filed a complaint alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).

The complaint was investigated by the CHRC at the time, but it dismissed in November 2018. The Federal Court of Canada has now ruled that the CHRC improperly dismissed his case and ordered a new investigation.

In the original investigation, bank officials were questioned but the manager who allegedly made the comments about only promoting gay or bisexual men was not available to interview because he was on an “extended leave of absence”.

The investigator did not to proceed further with the discrimination complaint. The bank claimed that Jagadeesh was fired because he was unqualified.

Justice Janet M Fuhrer wrote in the court ruling that Jagadeesh believed the fact that he was straight “was the primary reason for his discrimination and explained why, despite his qualifications, experience, and excellent performance, he was denied workplace accommodation for his disability, and not offered any alternative position”.

As Jagadeesh had represented himself, Federal Court of Canada ordered the CHRC to pay him $3,332.30 in expenses.

Hanna Lange-Chenier, a spokeswoman for the CHRC, told the Ottawa Citizen: “The law prevents us from commenting on any complaint in our system.”

More: Aaren Jagadeesh, Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, disability, Discrimination, sexual orientation, Toronto

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