A former executive banker at Canadian lender CIBC has filed a lawsuit claiming that its London office was a hostile work environment where women were subjected to comments about their looks and attire.
Zhuofang Wei, who worked as an executive director at CIBC for nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, has sued CIBC for $1 million for lost earnings and damages, alleging she suffered sexual and racial discrimination.
Wei claimed that the office kept an innuendo quote book that staff were encouraged to contribute to and vote on at the team’s Christmas party, which included phrases like “I am going to hold you down and pop one in” and “she’s up for a touch.”
She claims that executives at the bank asked her to babysit their children.
Wei and at least three female colleagues were also subjected to sexual comments about their attire or appearance, she alleges.
She also claimed that she was set to move to the Luxembourg office, where she would have the combined role of chief operating officer and chief risk officer — which typically fetch salaries of 330,000 euros ($355,875) and 225,000 euros ($242,641), respectively. But she alleges that was informed that she would remain on her existing base salary of 206,000 euros ($222,151).
Meanwhile, she alleges, several white employees moving to Luxembourg got the chance to negotiate their salaries.
CIBC denied all Wei’s allegations of discrimination and said her role was made redundant after her responsibilities significantly decreased, according to documents provided by the bank to Reuters.
“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’s claim was heard by an employment tribunal in London this month, with a judgment expected within weeks.
With Post wires