The California State legislature has passed a law prohibiting caste-based discrimination with a vote of 34-1. The news comes as a win for the state’s oppressed caste people.
Silicon Valley, being the home to major technology companies like Apple, Google, Meta, Cisco, Amazon, and Microsoft, has a large population of South Asian descent, with approximately 1.8 million residing in California. Despite this, reports of caste discrimination have been prevalent in the region. According to a caste survey, one out of every four Dalits in the United States has experienced verbal or physical abuse, while two out of every three have reported workplace discrimination.
In 2020, a former Cisco employee, John Doe (named changed to hide identity) filed a lawsuit against the company alleging caste discrimination at work. According to him, he was treated unfairly, excluded from meetings and promotions, and was at the receiving end of offensive comments and jokes because of his caste. Furthermore, following the Cisco case, 250 Dalit employees from major tech companies in Silicon Valley reported discrimination, bullying, and harassment by colleagues from dominant castes. 30 Dalit women engineers also spoke out about gender and caste bias in the industry.
However, things are going to get better now. Senator Aisha Wahab introduced the California Caste Bill SB 403 which will make a change in California’s anti-caste discrimination legislation and follows Seattle’s ban on caste discrimination.
The California Caste Bill SB 403 will increase awareness of caste-based discrimination and help human resources departments in tech companies address it successfully. The bill will provide relief to caste-oppressed individuals such as John Doe and others who deserve equal rights in the workplace.
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