Skip to main content

A recent case shows that progressive discipline works

A recent case shows that progressive discipline worksPhoto from Unsplash

Originally Posted On:


Most modern workplaces have a workplace policy that sets out the rules of the workplace. Often the workplace policy includes a progressive discipline policy, which sets out how the employer will discipline the employees who do not follow the workplace policy. Typically, progressive discipline starts with a verbal warning, then the penalty for not following the policy progressively increases to a written warning, then a suspension, and finally a for-cause termination. Based on the circumstances, these steps could be repeated or skipped. However, the purpose of implementing progressive discipline is to let the employee know that what they are doing is wrong and to have documentation that will help establish a for-cause termination if need be.

Progressive discipline is not a new topic to this blog. Our firm even offers progressive discipline training. However, it is always nice to see a case when an employer successfully applies progressive discipline, and with the proper retention of documents, can defend a for-cause termination in court.

Pirani v CIBC (2023 ONSC 5991)

In Pirani v CIBC (2023 ONSC 5991), Naseem Pirani was terminated, for cause, from her position as a Senior Financial Services Representative from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). While employed with CIBC, Ms. Pirani received her first written warning letter after, over a period of two months, she failed to review an overdraft report to ensure that proper actions were taken regarding one of her client’s accounts, contrary to CIBC’s workplace policy. Later, Ms. Pirani received a second and final written warning because, contrary to CIBC’s workplace policy, on three occasions she pulled Credit Bureau records for clients without their signed consent. Ms. Pirani also received coaching after these privacy breaches, as it could cause liability to CIBC, as the bank is in a highly regulated industry. Despite the final warning, Ms. Pirani committed several more serious breaches of CIBC’s policy, which led to CIBC deciding to terminate her employment.

The judge found that dismissal was a proportional response to Ms. Pirani’s breaches of CIBC’s workplace policy. In this case, the judge found that CIBC properly applied progressive discipline. The judge found that the policies were brought to Ms. Pirani’s attention, and she should have been aware of the importance of the policies, especially after receiving the written warnings. Because CIBC implemented progressive discipline and documented Ms. Pirani’s violation of the policy through progressive discipline, they were able to establish a violation of the employment agreement. Indeed, the judge found that “on the balance of probabilities, that the cumulative breaches of the Code coupled with Ms. Pirani’s continued and persistent breaches of CIBC’s policies signaled that she had no intention to follow the bank’s policies and procedures, and therefore, the bank’s response in dismissing her was proportionate in the circumstances.” (para 173).

Key Takeaways from Pirani v CIBC

Pirani v CIBC addresses numerous legal issues beyond what I can discuss in this blog. However, it addresses the importance of following your workplace policy and applying and documenting progressive discipline when an employee breaches that workplace policy.

For employers, the Pirani v CIBC case stands as an example of making your policies clear and applying progressive discipline proportionally. Application of progressive discipline should be proportionate to the facts leading to discipline and thus may require more than just two written warnings in certain circumstances. This case also highlights the importance of keeping detailed records of the progressive discipline applied. These documents were crucial to CIBC getting a successful result in court.

For employees, the Pirani v CIBC case stands as an important reminder to be aware of your workplace policies and follow them. If your employer applies progressive discipline, take the opportunity to understand what you did wrong, so you can maintain compliance with your workplace policy moving forward.

How Suzanne Desrosiers Professional Corporation can help

As mentioned earlier in this blog, Suzanne Desrosiers Professional Corporation is well-versed in progressive discipline. We provide progressive discipline training. However, if you have questions about progressive discipline in regards to an issue at your workplace, you can contact one of our employment lawyers by calling us at 705-268-6492 or emailing us at

Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.