California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is suing Cisco for “engaging in unlawful employment practices on the basis of religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity and race/color.”
The lawsuit alleges that an unnamed engineer, who identifies as Dalit, the lowest ranking caste in India’s Hindu religion, was discriminated against because of his low-ranking “untouchable” status. The lawsuit names his two supervisors, Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella, as co-defendants, who were from India’s highest ranking caste and were aware that the engineer was a Dalit.
India’s caste system is 2,000 years old. It ranks Hindus at birth into a caste, which determines their job prospects and whom they are allowed to marry. It was officially abolished in 1950, but it still permeates people’s lives in many ways. A 2018 survey by Equality Labs cited in the lawsuit found that 67% of Dalits “reported being treated unfairly at their workplace because of their caste.”
The unnamed engineer was “expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace where [he] held the lowest status within the team and, as a result, received less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment.” When he resisted such treatment, they “retaliated against him.” They allegedly reduced his role on the team, isolated him from his colleagues and gave him assignments that were “impossible to complete under the circumstances” alleges the lawsuit.
Cisco put out a statement, saying they are “committed to an inclusive workplace for all” and that they have “robust processes to report and investigate concerns raised by employees were followed in this case dating back to 2016” and they “determined we were fully in compliance with all laws as well as our own policies.”
Cisco allegedly failed to take “corrective action” even after multiple investigations.
Indians account for more than 70% of H-1B visas granted by the US every year, and Cisco was in the top 20 firms who employ recipients of H-1B work visas.
Discrimination on the basis of religion and race is illegal and should be taken very seriously. Our lawyers at the Mesriani Law Group are some of the top-rated labor and employment attorneys in Los Angeles and have decades of experience suing for discrimination in counties all over California. If you have experienced racial or religious discrimination at the hands of your employer, contact our law office today.