US court spikes caste bias case against Cisco
California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has voluntarily requested the dismissal of the lawsuit in the case of claimed caste discrimination against two Indian-American workers of Cisco, according to a recent development in the matter. The employee, who belonged to the Dalit community, will henceforth be referred to as “John Doe” per the CRD’s request. The department accused Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella of harassing and discriminating against employees based on their caste, but the Santa Clara Superior County Court has rejected the case against them. The CRD is still reviewing the case against the US-based IT firm, nevertheless.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) filed a petition a few months ago claiming that the action brought by CRD against Cisco and the engineers violated the civil rights of Hindus residing in California. The HAF claimed that the two supervisors had gone through a nightmare of nearly three years of never-ending investigations, a vicious online witch hunt, and a media presumption of guilt. Iyer, the CEO of one of the company’s divisions, allegedly faced allegations of caste-based harassment despite the fact that the complainant was actively recruited by Iyer, according to court documents. Moreover, Iyer employed at least one more self-identified Dalit who held one of the division’s three senior posts.
NewsOTG gathered that the other two leadership posts were also made available to this person before Doe filed his discrimination claim. On May 2, a mediation hearing for the case against Cisco is scheduled. The computer giant is charged with allowing caste-based discrimination and cultivating a hostile work environment. After the lawsuit was filed, Cisco added the concept of caste to its FY22 “Code of Business Conduct,” making it illegal to act in a way that specifically targets an individual employee or a group of employees based on traits “that have historically been the basis for marginalization.”
The Cisco case has given many Dalits the confidence to come out with their experiences of caste discrimination in education, medicine, and the computer industries, according to Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of the US-based Dalit civil rights organization Equality Labs. The prosecution against the two Indian-American employees of Cisco was dismissed, which is a significant milestone in a matter that has generated debate and attention in the US. The dismissal of the case implies that there wasn’t enough proof to back up the claims of caste harassment and discrimination.
But, the case against Cisco itself is still pending and will be closely followed by many in the technology sector since it raises crucial issues regarding the place of caste in the workplace and the duty of employers to forbid caste-based discrimination.