The constitution of the United States does not recognise discrimination based on caste. It bars discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnic or national origin and even sexual orientation, but not on the basis of caste. Why so? Because caste as a category was unknown to the founders of the American republic. That is now to be changed thanks to a landmark case last week.
The California State Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a lawsuit against a Silicon Valley giant, Cisco Corporation. It has charged the company with caste-based discrimination. Cisco and others in Silicon Valley employ thousands of engineers and professionals from India. The department has said that Cisco
violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also California’s own Fair Employment Act. The lawsuit also names two engineer managers who used to work at Cisco, and who discriminated against a fellow employee at Cisco, who is a Dalit. The two defendants are Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella. As per the charges, they being upper
caste, denied the Dalit employee his promotion, and gave him lesser pay and opportunities. They revealed his ‘Dalit’ caste to their co-workers at Cisco and also that he had got admission to IIT based on the caste quota. They were trying to enforce caste hierarchy at the workplace. When these complaints were taken to the HR department in Cisco, they ignored these. The state charges that Cisco failed to protect the employee against harassment, discrimination and humiliation. If you ask around in private conversations or hushed whispers, such caste discrimination is quite widespread if not rampant in America.