August 10, 2020 Category: Discrimination
A lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleges that Cisco and two employees discriminated against another employee. The victim was not named in the lawsuit but was identified as an engineer of the Dalit caste. The Dalit caste is the lowest caste in India’s caste system.
The lawsuit centers around unfair employment practices based on India’s caste system. Even though the caste system was officially abolished in 1950, a large percentage of individuals surveyed reported unfair treatment in the workplace because of their caste.
Dalits were commonly referred to as “untouchables.”
The lawsuit also names two Cisco employees as co-defendants who were supervisors on the same team as the Dalit engineer. The supervisors were members of India’s highest castes. They knew that the engineer in question was a Dalit.
The lawsuit alleges that the engineer was expected to adhere to the caste system at work. He was expected to hold the lowest status within the team. Therefore, he would receive fewer opportunities, less pay, and inferior terms and conditions of employment.
The engineer complained about the treatment. The lawsuit alleges that Cisco determined that the caste discrimination was not illegal, and issues continued through 2018.
The company retaliated against the engineer for the complaints. His role on the team was reduced, and he was given tasks that were impossible to complete, given the circumstances. He was also isolated from other colleagues.
The lawsuit alleges that Cisco failed to take any corrective action even though there were multiple investigations into the matter. Indians receive more than 70 percent of H-1B visas each year in the United States. Cisco, like many other tech companies, employs a large number of Indians.
All Employees Are Protected From Discrimination in the Workplace
Even though an employee may be working for a company on a work visa, the company nor its employees have the right to discriminate against that employee. The same anti-discrimination laws apply to employees with visas as they do to United States citizens employed with the company.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal employment laws protect certain classes of individuals from employment discrimination. California’s employment discrimination laws expand the protected classes.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects a broader set of employment characteristics. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against a person based on that person’s:
- Sex or gender
- Marital status
- Gender expression or gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Veteran or military status
- Medical condition
- National origin
- Request for family care leave
- Age (over 40)
- Genetic information
- Request for Pregnancy Disability Leave
- Reporting patient abuse in tax-supported institutions
- Request for leave for a serious health condition
Employment discrimination can take many forms. Retaliation, harassment, wrongful termination, excluding potential employees based on protected characteristics, and denying promotions or raises based on protected characteristics are just a few of the ways employers discriminate against employees.
Filing a Complaint Alleging Employment Discrimination in California
You can file a complaint alleging employment discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California DFEH. California employment protection laws are generally broader than federal employment protection laws. Therefore, if your complaint involves a protected class that does not fall within the federally protected classes, you may want to file a claim with the DFEH.
Likewise, if you work for a small employer, you may want to file your claim with the DFEH. California’s employment discrimination laws apply to employers with five or more employees. EEOC handles complaints against employers who have 15 or more employees.
When you file a complaint with the DFEH or the EEOC, it investigates the allegations of discrimination in the workplace. If the agency determines that discrimination or harassment took place, the agency informs you and your employer. In some cases, like the one above, the agency may file a lawsuit against one or more parties.
You may also retain an employment discrimination lawyer to file a civil suit against your employer. By filing a civil claim against the employer, you can seek compensation for damages incurred because of the discrimination or workplace harassment.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Discrimination Lawsuit?
Discrimination claims are complicated. The laws governing employee rights can be confusing. It can be helpful to have someone with extensive knowledge of California’s employment laws to guide you through the process.
By speaking with a lawyer, you learn about your legal rights and all available options to seek justice and compensation. Based on the facts in your case, it might be best to pursue one option instead of another option. Without an employment law attorney, it can be difficult to know what you should do.
However, it would be best if you act now. Your time to file an employment discrimination claim is limited. Failing to file a timely complaint or lawsuit could result in the loss of certain legal rights.