CIBC Loses Age Discrimination Case In The UK

By: Ainsley Brown

It would seem that yet another Canadian bank has received a wrap on the knuckles in the UK. The latest bank to be disciplined: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), who lost an employment age discrimination case.

The case was brought by a 42 year old London based banker who was made redundant in 2008 as part of a larger redundancy programme initiated by CIBC in response to the global credit crunch. The banker, a Mr. Achim Beck, was head of marketing at CIBC when he was let go, as part of this redundancy programme.

Hold on, not so fast.

According to the London South Employment Tribunal this was not true – quit the opposite it would seem. The tribunal held that CIBC could not satisfy the burden placed on it to demonstrate that its decision to make Mr. Beck redundant “was not significantly influenced by his age.”

CIBC’s case was severely undermined when it was revealed in evidence that an internal memo that set out the criteria for a replacement marketing executive stated that the position should be filled by a “younger entrepreneurial profile.” Before the tribunal CIBC sought to clarify the meaning of the above words by saying that the word younger was qualified by the following entrepreneurial. Further, the use of younger was not used in relation to age but rather indicated experience level. However, the tribunal was having none of it, especially when it was revealed that the bank’s own London head of human resources thought that the use of the word younger was inappropriate.

With evidence like that, is it little wonder that the tribunal ruled as it did?

A determination as to the quantum of the award to Mr. Beck is not yet known but will be determined at a later hearing subject to the parties reaching a settlement before that date.

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