The South Asian caste system is an ancient social structure that divides people according to a strict hierarchy based on their birth circumstances. It’s also been called “one of the oldest systems of oppression in the world.”
Why does that matter in California? Because this state is home to many tech empires that are filled with workers who have immigrated from South Asian — and some of them have brought those ancient prejudices here.
How is caste being used to discriminate?
The Dalit community is on the lowest rung of the social caste structure — and many U.S. transplants are finding that the prejudices they faced in their home country have followed them here.
Some have resorted to using aliases so that they aren’t identified as Dalits. Others have taken legal action because of the discrimination they’ve faced from co-workers who belong to higher castes. Lawsuits related to caste discrimination are pending against Cisco Systems, Inc., Apple Inc. and others. Even Microsoft Corp. has admitted that it has received internal complaints related to caste discrimination.
Do they have a case? According to advocacy groups, the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibition against racial biases broadly covers the issue. However, those same groups would like the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to specifically identify caste discrimination as “an urgent contemporary U.S. civil rights and social justice issue.”
In general, clarification of the law would go a long way to help those who have suffered such discrimination pursue their claims.
What should you do if you’ve experienced workplace discrimination?
You have a right to expect fair, even-handed treatment at work. If you’ve been discriminated against, it may be time to speak to an attorney.