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Cisco Sued For Discrimination Based On Indian Caste System

The lawsuit says that “higher caste supervisors and co-workers imported the discriminatory system’s practices into their team and Cisco’s workplace.”

New York| California regulators have sued Cisco Systems, accusing that an engineer faced discrimination based on his caste at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters because he is a Dalit Indian.

Once termed as “untouchables”, India’s caste history has always placed Dalits at the bottom of a social hierarchy. Even after caste discrimination being banned in the country, inequities and violence against Dalits have persisted for decades.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the engineer worked on a team at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters with Indians who all immigrated to the U.S. as adults, and all of whom were of high caste.

The lawsuit says that “higher caste supervisors and co-workers imported the discriminatory system’s practices into their team and Cisco’s workplace.”

According to the lawsuit, Cisco’s treatment of the employee, who remains unnamed, violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The Civil Rights Act bans all kinds of employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

“It is unacceptable for workplace conditions and opportunities to be determined by a hereditary social status determined by birth,” DFEH Director, Kevin Kish said.

Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella, two men who were Cisco supervisors and higher-caste Indians, are named in the suit for discriminating and harassing the employee. The lawsuit also accuses that the employee received less pay and lesser opportunities and when he opposed the “unlawful practices, contrary to the traditional order between the Dalit and higher castes, Defendants retaliated against him.”

The suit also says that Cisco did not step in to prevent this discrimination.

The suit says that Sundar Iyer told other workers that the employee was Dalit and enrolled at India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology through affirmative action. The employee tried to talk to Cisco human relations, wanting to file a discrimination complaint against Iyer. But then Iyer took away his responsibilities and made other changes that reduced the employee’s role and made him feel isolated from his coworkers. the lawsuit also accuses Iyer of disparaging the employee to coworkers and telling them to avoid the employee.

 

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