High Caste Cisco Supervisors Vindicated as Calif. Rights Department Dismisses its Own Anti-discrimination Case
- The Dalit American advocates claim the dismissal “does not change anything,” saying that they are grateful to California state for “having the courage to bring such a historic case forward.”
In a major vindication for Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella, the two Cisco supervisors at the heart of a caste discrimination case, the California Civil Rights Department has voluntarily dismissed its case alleging caste discrimination against two Cisco engineers, while still keeping alive its litigation against the Silicon Valley tech giant, the Associated Press reported.
The two so-called high-caste Cisco employees were accused in the department’s lawsuit of discriminating and harassing a fellow employee based on his low-caste status. That case was dismissed by an order of the Santa Clara Superior County Court last week.
“But the vindication,” according to Suresh Krishnamoorthy of the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), “may have come too late for Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella. For three years, they have been vilified, posterized, attacked and presumed guilty of the worst forms of oppression — with no chance to defend themselves.” CoHNA is a Hindu-American advocacy group.
California state, however, said it was keeping alive its litigation against the Silicon Valley tech giant. The Civil Rights Department sent a statement to The Associated Press on Monday saying the case against Cisco “remains ongoing.”
“We will continue to vigorously litigate the matter on behalf of the people of California,” the statement added.
The AP report said, “California’s lawsuit against Cisco, filed in July 2020, alleges that the Dalit engineer received less pay and fewer opportunities and that the defendants retaliated against him when he opposed ‘unlawful practices, contrary to the traditional order between the Dalit and higher castes.’ The engineer worked on a team at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters with Indians who all immigrated to the U.S. as adults, and all of whom were of high caste, the lawsuit stated.”
The Hindu American Foundation, which characterized the suit as a form of Hinduphobia, was quoted as saying, “The Civil Rights Department voluntarily dismissing its case against the two engineers is a vindication for activists who have held the position that “the state has no right to attribute wrongdoing to Hindu and Indian Americans simply because of their religion or ethnicity.”
In a counter, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder and executive director of Equality Labs, a Dalit advocacy group, said the dismissal of the case against Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella “does not change anything.” The Cisco case, she asserted, “has given so many Dalits the courage to come forward with their stories about caste discrimination in education, the medical and tech industries.”
“The Dalit community owes (the engineer) and the Civil Rights Department gratitude for having the courage to bring such a historic case forward,” she added.
The case has polarized the Indian American community which has been plagued by a series of conflicts related to caste. Recently, there was a furor among high-caste Hindus, who constitute the majority in the Indian American community in general and the high-tech sector in particular, over the issue of a bill introduced in the California State legislature that seeks to add caste to protections the state offers against discrimination in educational opportunities and employment, among others.