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California Civil Rights Department Dismisses Caste Discrimination Lawsuit Against Tech Company


Employment laws in California and at the federal level prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics which relate to a person’s physical appearance, personal history, or family background.  For example, skin color, national origin, and religion are protected characteristics.

Should the law officially recognize caste as a protected characteristic, separate from the aforementioned characteristics which relate to caste?  In the law and history of India, the term caste refers to groups which are expected to marry within their own caste and who have historically practiced certain professions.  Several employees in California have accused their employers of discrimination based on caste, and the California legislature is currently considering a bill that would formally recognize caste as a protected characteristic.  A local law in Seattle has already banned caste discrimination.  If you have faced caste discrimination at work, contact a Los Angeles discrimination and harassment lawyer.

Engineer Claims That Supervisors Discriminated Against Him Because of His Dalit Ancestry

In India, the term Dalit refers to historically disadvantaged castes; the Indian Constitution uses the term Scheduled Castes to refer to the same groups, and it also bans discrimination based on caste.  India has affirmative action laws meant to benefit members of Scheduled Castes.  No federal or state laws in the United States specifically define “caste,” which makes the legal issue of caste discrimination a difficult one.

An employee of a technology company who immigrated to California filed a discrimination complaint against the employer.  The plaintiff was the only employee of Dalit origin; his supervisors and coworkers were of high castes of Hindu origin, and all of the ones specifically mentioned in the complaint had also immigrated from India.  One supervisor told a group of employees that he thought that the only reason the plaintiff had been accepted to the university in India from which he graduated was affirmative action.  When the plaintiff complained about this and other acts of harassment, the supervisor demoted him.  The plaintiff experienced similar treatment from the supervisor’s successor.  When the plaintiff complained, the supervisor assigned him tasks that were impossible to complete.

In April 2023, the California Civil Rights Department dismissed the case against the employer, but the debate over caste discrimination continues.  Some groups, such as Hindus for Caste Equity and Hindus for Human Rights, would welcome legal protections against caste discrimination in U.S. law.  Others, such as the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America, claim that other protected characteristics already cover every possible caste discrimination claim that an employee could reasonably make.  They point out that everyone who has ever been accused of caste discrimination in U.S. employment law cases has been of South Asian descent, expressing concern that the law could lead to more discrimination against Hindus and people of South Asian background, rather than less.

Speak With a Los Angeles Employer Retaliation Lawyer

A Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer can help you if your employer retaliated against you when you complained about discrimination in your workplace.  Contact Litigation, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call (424) 284-2401.


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