The Canadian Human Rights Commission was ordered to properly address a discrimination complaint by a former employee of a major bank who claims his boss told him he had “no hope” for promotion unless he joined their “group” of gay and bisexual men.
The defendant Aaren Jagadeesh, who worked as a financial services representative for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto, was repeatedly turned down for promotions. According to his claim, at a one-on-one meeting with his manager on September 15, 2015, Jagadeesh said he was told that every male manager in the office was gay or bisexual, and, unless he joined this “group” there was “no hope” for him to be promoted.
Jagadeesh said the incident negatively impacted his “mental stress and self-dignity.” Additionally, due to the circumstances of his work, he developed severe throat and vocal cord pain. His family doctor recommended modified duties, however he was instead asked by the bank to go on short-term disability. CIBC referred him to another doctor, who in turn referred him to a specialist, who concluded he suffered from muscle tension dysphonia. According to Jagadeesh, the bank began discriminating against him soon after the diagnosis: his pay and bonuses were cut, he was threatened with discipline if he took his medical breaks. He said he was turned down for 17 alternate jobs.
Jagadeesh believed “the encounter” with his manager about sexual orientation “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,” Justice Janet M. Fuhrer said in a court ruling.
Jagadeesh was fired on May 10, 2016. He filed a human rights complaint the following April alleging discrimination by CIBC because of disability and sexual orientation. He alleged that young employees received promotions, awards, and favours because they were sexually exploited.
An investigator with the human rights commission was assigned to look into the complaint. CIBC officials were interviewed — but not the manager in question who was on “extended leave of absence” during the investigation. The investigator declined to proceed further on the complaint of sexual orientation discrimination, but did assess his disability complaint and found that CIBC had adequately accommodated him.
The recent decision by the Federal Court said that the lack of thoroughness in reviewing the grounds of the complaint meant the decision must be set aside. The court ordered the commission to try again with a different investigator. The Federal Court also ordered that Jagadeesh be paid half of the compensation he asked for: $3,332.30.