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‘Oversensitive’ city banker who sued ‘racist and sexist’ bosses for £800k loses discrimination case

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A “hypersensitive” female bank manager of the city who complained after her male boss jokingly asked her to babysit for him and colleagues called her a “ladette” has lost a sexual and racial harassment case.

High-flying Zhuofang Wei tried to sue the London branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for £800,000, alleging she was a victim of discrimination.

In an employment court, the “highly regarded” director complained about a “quote book” from the office that recorded funny sexually suggestive comments and then voted at Christmas parties – awarding a trophy to the winner.

However, this complaint was dismissed after Mrs Wei, who earns £175,000 a year, admitted that she had become a member and the tribunal ruled that this was a ‘willing participant’.

Ms. Wei, who was educated at the top US universities of Princeton and Stanford, also claimed she was “disparaged” when boss Wayne Lee called her his “little sister.”

‘Oversensitive’ city banker Zhuofang Wei (pictured) lost her case against the London branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for £800,000 after she claimed she was the victim of discrimination

She complained that Mr Lee, the bank’s director, was “symbolic” when he nominated her for an important role.

And she claimed he discriminated against her by asking her to babysit, lamented that he scolded her and complained that he had her “dismissive” when he disagreed with her during a meeting.

But a judge dismissed all of her discrimination claims, labeling her as “oversensitive” and an “unreliable witness” who sometimes “beautified or distorted the truth.”

Although it was determined that Ms Wei was sexually harassed when colleagues called her a ‘ladette’ and ‘one of the boys’, she will not receive compensation because the panel concluded that she filed the claim too late.

She was also found to be a victim of CIBC by bringing forward her discharge date by 11 days and will be compensated for it.

The Central London tribunal learned that Ms Wei, known as Fang by colleagues, had joined the bank in April 2018, having previously held positions with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.

The hearing was told there were “elements” of CIBC’s London branch that were “degrading” to women, but these were “office chatter and loose language.”

Ms Wei complained that Mr Lee, a director of CIBC's London branch (pictured), was 'symbolic' when he nominated her for a key role

Ms Wei complained that Mr Lee, a director of CIBC’s London branch (pictured), was ‘symbolic’ when he nominated her for a key role

A female employee at CIBC described an “old schoolboy environment where there was a lot of chatter.”

For example, CEO Paul Atkinson kept a “quote book” with his team for ten years, in which funny sexually suggestive comments were noted.

There was a running joke about an assistant whose skirt blew up during a social occasion to reveal she was not wearing underwear, and at a Christmas play chief risk officer Keith White said his assistant was “probably one of a kind.” -night stand’.

Chinese Ms. Wei, a graduate of Princeton and Stanford in the US, complained about the citation book when she brought her case to the tribunal, but admitted that she participated.

Ms. Wei insisted she only entered to “fit in,” but the tribunal found her to be a “willing participant” who saw it as “light-hearted fun” and even continued to quote a woman openly “bullied by it.” ‘ felt .

The book is no longer used by the branch and the staff admits it is “inappropriate.”

Ms. Wei, executive director of the Strategic Planning and Business Management team, claimed that Mr. Lee suggested three times to babysit him, which insulted Ms. Wei.

She also accused him of “looking down” on Chinese people and when he nominated her as master of ceremonies at a work event, she claimed the role was “symbolic.”

She also accused another boss of telling her not to wear a “tight dress” because he had to “concentrate.”

But these claims were rejected by the tribunal which found that Mr Lee had joked about babysitting and had sincerely supported her.

The clothing comments were never made, the panel concluded.

The tribunal heard that Ms Wei’s resignation from the bank in March 2020 came after she moved into a new role in a planned office in Luxembourg post-Brexit but was not offered a pay raise she thought she deserved.

Ms. Wei, who would combine the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Risk Officer, ‘naively’ believed that she would receive a combined amount of two salaries ‘in the region of €450,000’.

However, she was not offered an increase in her salary of £175,000 because that, along with the £72,000 bonus she received, was in line with market rates.

She declined the job offer in early 2020 and as she had been preparing for it for months, her London job became redundant and she was fired in March 2020.

However, she threatened legal action against the bank and bosses pushed forward her resignation date by 11 days.

Labor Judge Holly Stout ruled that Ms Wei’s allegations of racial and sexual discrimination were unfounded, but she fell victim to the resignation amendment.

“The Tribunal found Ms. Wei to be an unreliable witness in a number of respects, as there were some aspects of her evidence that embellished or distorted the truth,” the judge said.

“We’re mainly thinking about how she exaggerated her evidence on the citation book.”

Ms Wei, who would combine the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Risk Officer, at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in London,

Ms Wei, who would combine the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Risk Officer, at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in London, “naively believed” she would receive a combined amount of two salaries “in the region of €450,000”. Pictured: A CIBCO building in Toronto, the capital of Canada’s Ontario province

Judge Stout added: “We believe there were elements of the… [bank’s] culture that discriminated against and/or demeaned women, but that these elements were limited to “office gossip” or “loose language” rather than being symptomatic of a general culture of less favorable treatment of women.

“We further note that Mr. Lee generally did not have a discriminatory attitude towards Chinese women.”

It was heard that Ms Wei was harassed when colleagues called her a “ladette” and “one of the boys” in connection with her participation in social activities, but this claim came too late so that she is not compensated.

Judge Stout added: “We believe this harassment exemplifies what we have termed ‘loose language’, meaning ill-chosen and stereotypical language that was well-intentioned.

“They should have chosen their words more carefully, and by not doing so, they caused offense.”

Ms Wei – her LinkedIn profile says she is governor of the University of Derby – will receive compensation for victimization at a later date.

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