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After Cisco, HCL Faces Lawsuit in US Over Sacking of Indian Employee Based on Caste

News18.com

Last Updated: August 05, 2020, 15:23 IST

A view of the HCL campus. (Picture for representation)

A view of the HCL campus. (Picture for representation)

In July, California regulators sued Cisco Systems Inc, 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.

A month after Cisco Systems Inc was accused of discriminating against an Indian-American employee and allowing him to be harassed by two managers because of his caste, a former employee of HCL US has filed a lawsuit against the IT major for unlawful termination based on his caste by his superior.

The case, which was filed on March 25 in a superior court in California, is similar to the much-publicised case against Cisco by the authorities that triggered debates around caste bias in Silicon Valley organisations.

According to Moneycontrol, the lawsuit filed by the employee against HCL America is similar in the sense that it alleges that his superior Srinivas Chakravarty, a Kamma Naidu by caste, harboured animosity against him as he is a Kapu Naidu.

The two caste groups have a history of animosity that dates back to the riots in 1980s in the Vijayawada region of Andhra Pradesh, the lawsuit said.

“Substantial motivating factors for … termination of employment were, without limitation, his ethnicity (including as it relates to caste), race, national origin, ancestry, religious creed and/or color, and/or any such perceived characteristics, and/or his association with members of such protected classes, as well as his complaints about discrimination within the company,” the lawsuit said.

The former empployee said that he had come to know that Chakravarty was terminated soon after the lawsuit was filed, but could not independently verify the same.

HCL Technologies, the parent company of HCL America, did not respond to queries about Chakravarty’s termination and the action taken on two senior managers -- Vikas Soni and Prasanna Subramanian-- to whom Vikram complained.

The company also did not respond to queries by Moneycontrol on the allegations raised in the lawsuit or steps taken by the company to address unfair treatment meted out to Vikram based on his ethnicity.

In July, California regulators sued Cisco Systems Inc, 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.

US employment law does not specifically bar caste-based discrimination, but California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing contends in the lawsuit that India's lingering caste system is based on protected classes such as religion. That caste hierarchy was enforced in the workplace, according to the lawsuit, which accuses the two former engineering managers of harassment.

Cisco said it did not have immediate comment, saying that it planned to issue a statement at a later time. Like other large Silicon Valley employers, Cisco's workforce includes thousands of Indian immigrants, most of whom were brought up as Brahmins or other high castes.
first published:August 05, 2020, 15:10 IST
last updated:August 05, 2020, 15:23 IST