California regulators sued Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) on Tuesday, accusing it of discriminating against an Indian-American employee and allowing him to be harassed by two managers because he was from a lower Indian caste than them.
U.S. employment law does not specifically bar caste-based discrimination, but California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing contends in the lawsuit that the Hindu faith’s lingering caste system is based on protected classes such as religion.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, does not name the alleged victim. It states he has been a principal engineer at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters since October 2015 and that he was born at the bottom of caste hierarchy as a Dalit, once called “untouchables.”
Like other large Silicon Valley employers, Cisco’s workforce includes thousands of Indian immigrants, most of whom were born Brahmins or other high castes.