Bank accused of operating hostile and degrading environment for women

Former executive director sues for US$1 million, alleging sexual and racial discrimination, according to report

Bank accused of operating hostile and degrading environment for women

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s (CIBC) London, UK, office is being sued for US$1 million for allegedly operating a hostile and degrading environment for women.

According to a report by Reuters, the discrimination claim is being made by Zhuofang Wei, who worked as an executive director at CIBC for nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, She is suing for lost earnings and damages, alleging she was subjected to sexual and racial discrimination by managers. Wei also claims she was dismissed by CIBC in March 2020 after she objected to taking on a new role without an increase in pay.

According to a defence document supplied by the bank to Reuters, CIBC denies all allegations of discrimination and said her role was made redundant after her responsibilities significantly decreased.

"CIBC is committed to a respectful and equitable workplace and takes any concerns raised by a team member seriously," a spokesperson for CIBC said. "Whenever any issue is raised through our confidential hotline or any other avenue of escalation, we investigate thoroughly and take action as appropriate. As this matter is now before the courts, we are unable to comment further at this time."

Wei alleges the office kept an innuendo quote book that staff were encouraged to contribute to and vote on at the team's Christmas party. She said it included phrases like "I am going to hold you down and pop one in" and "she's up for a touch".

China-born Wei was also subjected to discrimination directly on multiple occasions, she alleges, including twice being asked by one of the bank's senior executives to babysit his children.