DFEH Sues Cisco Systems and Its Managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella for Caste-based Discrimination Against a Dalit Engineer

June 30, 2020 - The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a federal lawsuit today against Cisco Systems and two of its managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella employed at company's San Jose headquarters for allegedely discriminating against an Engineer because he is Dalit or "Untouchable".

Besides caste discrimination, the other charges of law suit against Cisco and its two managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella include harassment and retaliation.

According to the DFEH law suit allegations:
....managers at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters campus, which employs a predominantly South Asian workforce, harassed, discriminated, and retaliated against an engineer because he is Dalit Indian, a population once known as the “untouchables” under India’s centuries-old caste system.

...Complainant was expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace where he held the lowest status within a team of higher-caste colleagues, receiving less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/color.

....Mr. Iyer, one of the Brahmin engineers at Cisco, revealed to his other higher-caste colleagues that the complainant had joined a top engineering school in India through affirmative action. When the Dalit engineer confronted Mr. Iyer and contacted Cisco’s human resources to file a complaint, Mr. Iyer retaliated by taking away the Dalit engineer’s role as lead on two technologies.

...for two years Mr. Iyer isolated the Dalit engineer, denied him bonuses and raises and stonewalled his promotions. Cisco’s human resources department responded by telling the Dalit engineer that “caste discrimination was not unlawful” and took no immediate corrective action.

...Mr. Kompella, the other Brahmin manager named in the lawsuit, replaced Mr. Iyer as the Dalit engineer’s manager, “continued to discriminate, harass, and retaliate against” him.

The California DFEH federal law suit (Case No. 5:20-cv-04374) against Cisco and its managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII), and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in Northern District of California.