An ex-senior banker at one of Canada’s biggest banks has filed an £800,000 lawsuit against her former employer over claims she was subject to racial and sexual discrimination while working at the firm.
Zhuofang Wei, a former executive director at the London office of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), is suing the bank for £800,000 in lost earnings, after the bank failed to give her a pay rise for a new role at its Luxembourg offices following a post-Brexit move.
The lawsuit comes after Wei was offered a new position – set to see her combine the roles of chief risk officer and chief operating officer – in CIBC’s Luxembourg office, as part of a post-Brexit shakeup within the firm.
Wei said that while the two positions should have commanded salaries of €330,000 (£280,000) and €225,000 respectively, the bank told her she would remain on her existing base salary of €206,000
The exec says CIBC failed to offer her a pay rise for the step up in responsibilities – even after several white employees, including two white men, were given the opportunity to renegotiate their pay.
The banker was later fired from CIBC in 2020 after she refused to take on the new role without receiving an increase in pay.
The Chinese national said that she was subject to both racial and sexual discrimination at CIBC’s London office, as she claimed the bank’s office kept an innuendo quote book, that staff were encouraged to contribute to and vote on at the team’s Christmas party.
The exec said the office’s innuendo book contained phrases such as “I am going to hold you down and pop one in” and “she’s up for a touch”.
Wei also claimed she was asked twice by one of the bank’s senior executives to babysit his children, as she said her and other female colleagues were also subjected to sexual comments about their appearances.
CIBC has denied all of Wei’s claims and denied that she was subject to sexual or racial discrimination. The bank said the salaries outlined for the roles were only estimates as it claimed it had decided all employees should be paid the same as they were in London.