A federal court has sided with a former CIBC employee after the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) dismissed his complaint that he was discriminated against for being heterosexual.

Aaren Jagadeesh, a former financial services representative with the bank, alleges that his boss told him that there was “no hope” for him unless he was either gay or bisexual.

Originally reported in the National Post in 2015, Jagadeesh said that his manager told him that every manager in the office was either gay or bisexual. Unless he joined their “group,” he would never receive a promotion.

“Be smart and learn,” Jagadeesh’s manager allegedly told him.

Jagadeesh says he was further discriminated by CIBC after he was diagnosed with muscle tension dysphonia, saying he was threatened if he took medical breaks. His bonuses and benefits were also cut. 

Jagadeesh filed complaints for sexual orientation and disability discrimination with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. After his complaints were dismissed in November 2018, he appealed the decision.

The CHRC did not interview the manager who allegedly made the remarks to Jagadeesh as he was on an “extended leave of absence.”

A Federal Court judge sided with Jagadeesh, ordering the CHRC to open a new investigation and reassess their first ruling.

The discussion with the manager “was the primary reason for his discrimination and explained why, despite his qualifications, experience, and excellent performance, he was denied workplace accommodations for his disability, and not offered any alternative position,” Justice Janet Fuhrer said in her decision. 

Fuhrer also ordered CIBC to pay Jagadeesh $3,332.30 for costs incurred.

CIBC Public Affairs Consultant Crystal Jongeward told the media, “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.”

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