What does an ancient social system in India have to do with Silicon Valley? Everything, if you happen to be a Dalit living and working in California’s tech industry.
Indian tech workers in California say that discrimination based on caste — a social system that once divided Indians into a strict social hierarchy — has followed them to their jobs in this country.
Even though the caste system has officially been eliminated, long-standing prejudices involving caste remain among Indians. This is particularly true concerning “Dalits,” or people who belong to the lowest, “untouchable” caste.
Workers here say that they’re often informally expected to accept a hierarchical system among their fellow employees that consigns them to fewer responsibilities, less authority, lower pay and poorer treatment than what is received by workers from other castes. This is true whether workers are native to this country or immigrants, but immigrant workers often fear speaking out because they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs — and their H-1B visa.
Worse, many employers may be so oblivious to the issue of caste that they either don’t address the issue at all when they talk about discrimination or don’t know how to handle it when the situation comes up. Just the same, fully 67% of Dalits working in the United States say that they have experienced unfair treatment on their jobs because of their caste.
Workplace discrimination is never okay, no matter what the circumstances. If you’re mistreated on the job because of your caste, it’s time to speak up. An experienced attorney can help you better understand the steps you should take next.