The Hindu Caste system is an ancient cultural practice that regulated everyday life in India for centuries. Although remarkable progress has been made in dismantling casteism, lower caste members experience discrimination to this day.
Unfortunately, as upper caste Indians (Brahmins) immigrated to the Bay Area to fill tech positions in Silicon Valley, some brought the caste system with them. Dalits, members of the lowest caste, claim they encounter workplace discrimination because of their caste status on a frequent basis.
For example, they are less likely to receive a job offer if a Brahmin is conducting the interview. They experience demeaning jokes and harassment, and are often denied promotions simply because they are Dalits.
The issue is a new kind of workplace discrimination that many HR offices are ill-equipped to handle. Furthermore, many are hesitant to speak out because they’re immigration status (many are employee sponsored) depends on their employment.
Tech giant accused of casteism
A lawsuit filed against a fortune 500 company this summer threw the issue into the spotlight.
The State of California sued tech giant Cisco Systems claiming that officials in the company discriminated against Dalits because of their caste status. The suit claims that such caste-based discrimination violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
The action, which was initially filed in federal court, was refiled in state court this fall. Cisco Systems denies all accusations made in the complaint.
Of course, workplace discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes and encompasses more than just race and gender-based discrimination.
Furthermore, prejudicial treatment can impact more than just the victim’s professional life but can also have profound effects on their psychological well-being.
Thankfully, victims of discrimination in Oakland are entitled to protection under the law. An experienced employment lawyer can vindicate their rights in a court of law or administrative hearing. A successful lawsuit may result in a significant financial award for the victim and their family.