Lawsuit: CEOs Invite India’s Caste Culture into U.S. Workplaces

AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

A California state agency is recognizing the quiet spread of India’s ancient caste discrimination into America’s Fortune 500 professional workplaces.

“The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a federal lawsuit today under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 … against Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) and two managers for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” said a June 30 press release. The press release continued:

The lawsuit alleges that 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.

The lawsuit alleges that 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.

India’s ancient Hindu religion ranks people from birth into several unchangeable castes and requires relentless discrimination by a civic hierarchy of upper caste against lower caste. The hierarchy is so ingrained in Indian society, in Hinduism, marriage rules, parenting, education, and careers that it is visible in Indians’ DNA, according to a 2013 press release by Harvard Medical School:

“This genetic data tells us a three-part cultural and historical story,” said [Harvard professor David] Reich, who is also an associate member of the Broad Institute. “Prior to about 4000 years ago there was no mixture. After that, widespread mixture affected almost every group in India, even the most isolated tribal groups. And finally, endogamy [marriage within caste] set in and froze everything in place.”

The caste culture is now being brought into U.S. workplaces by Fortune 500 executives who allow Indian-born lower managers to act as ethnic power brokers in exchange for meeting corporate deadlines and payroll targets.

Fortune 500 companies and their subcontractors use the H-1B, L-1, OPT, CPT, and TN pipelines to employ at least 1.3 million visa workers, most of whom are Indian. Many of the Indians are training in the U.S. to take Americans’ jobs back to India, and many others are working in exchange for the promise of employer-provided green cards.

The legal workforce also works alongside a growing illegal population of foreign college-graduate workers, most of whom get jobs as gig workers for a large number of Indian-run companies that work as legal subcontractors for Fortune 500 companies.

This corporate collusion with Inda’s caste system — and the associated job selling, kickbacks, and cheating — has pushed millions of American graduates out of Fortune 500 jobs, is wrecking American-style professionalism, and is undermining needed innovation.

India’s invasive caste culture is also getting quiet political support from the wealthy investors who want more Indian labor, and from the left-wing progressives who impose variety — or diversity — as they try to fracture the political and cultural power of mainstream Americans.

The Indian workers “are genuinely nice, pleasant people for the most part,” one U.S. software expert told Breitbart. Using the name, “Nathanial from New Mexico,” he  continued:

I’d say 99 percent of them are very nice people. But this is a caste system in India. They all know what level of caste they’re in. Okay. So among themselves as a group of H-1Bs, these workers have their own issues. They won’t communicate with somebody that they deem to be lower [caste] than them — even though that person that they deem to be lower is a hell of a lot smarter than they are and has the right answers.

U.S. managers exploit the caste culture to manage their Indian workers and increasingly impose a similar top-down hierarchy on American professionals, he said:

It is a culture in a lot of these [Fortune 500 Information Technology] shops where I work. That is because these [Indian] folks come in and they have their caste system, and upper management somehow has keyed into that, and the way that their H-1B visa managers … treat their [H-1B] employees.

American upper managers think they can treat American employees the same way. American [professionals] know we speak our mind, we speak up when things are not right, we speak up when we think things are going good. But nowadays, if you speak out of turn, you’re [soon] filing for unemployment because they will find some nitpicking things about you to get you gone.

“A lot of Indians escape India to get away from the [caste] politics,” said Roger Ross, the policy director at the U.S. Tech Workers. He continued:

I speak to a lot of Indians who say “My primary goal in coming to the United States is not to get a job, but to escape the discriminatory politics of India” … These people coming here think there will be professionalism [at work], but they don’t find it and they see the same politics of caste here.

But other Indian visa workers import their caste culture in their workplaces and even pass it on to their U.S.-born children, he said. “It is endemic in any sector where there is a higher percentage of Indian workers and managers,” he said.

But a similar cultural skew is seen in other diverse groups because managers usually prefer to communicate and direct people of their own culture, such as Chinese, Russian, and American cultures, he said. “It is difficult to say that they are wrong — if I wanted to be able to communicate, I would probably relate better to someone from my country county, culture, and language,” he said.

In Indian-dominated companies, this process ensures that “there is an active dislike for Americans in general because the Indian managers cannot impose their culture,” he said. “You have two things going — they are excluding [lower-caste] people from their own county and are also excluding Americans — white, black, brown, Latinos, etc.”

Many Indians who get citizenship try to escape the caste system, said an Indian who identified himself as “Vikram from Texas.”

These new Americans want their children to live in America and to work in professional jobs, but India’s management “mafia” has a growing control over entry-level jobs in the tech sector, he told Breitbart News. The naturalized Americans often get rejected for jobs by Indian managers who fear they will use their legal rights to expose the caste-linked corruption, Vikram said.

In a statement to Reuters, Cisco denied wrongdoing:

Cisco spokeswoman Robyn Blum said the network gear maker followed its process to investigate employee concerns in this case and would “vigorously defend itself” against the lawsuit.

“Cisco is committed to an inclusive workplace for all,” she said. “We were fully in compliance with all laws as well as our own policies.”

The California lawsuit describes the caste discrimination suffered by “John Doe” in Cisco’s Indian workforce:

John Doe is Dalit Indian, a population once known as “The Untouchables,” who are the most disadvantaged people under India’s centuries-old caste system. As a strict Hindu social and religious hierarchy, India’s caste system defines a person status based on their religion ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/color, or the caste in which they are born and will remain all the death. At the bottom of the Indian hierarchy is the Dalit, typically the darkest complexion case, who were traditionally subject to “untouchability” practices, which segregated them by social custom and legal mandate. Although de jure segregation ended in India, lower caste persons like Dalits continue to face de facto segregation and discrimination in all spheres. Not only do Dalits endure the most severe inequality and unfair treatment in both the public and private sectors, they are often targets of hate violence and torture. Of India’s approximately 1.3 billion people, but 200 million are Dalits.

Unlike Doe, most Indian immigrants in the United States are from upper castes. For example, in 2003, only 1.5 percent of Indian immigrants were Dalits or members of lower castes. More than 90 percent were from high or dominant castes. Similarly, upon information and belief, the same is true of Indian employees in Cisco’s workforce in San Jose, California.

As alleged below, at Cisco San Jose headquarters, Doe worked with a team of entirely Indian employees. The team members grew up in India and immigrated as adults to the United States. Except for Doe, the entire team is also from the high castes in India. As beneficiaries of the caste system, Doe’s higher caste supervisors and co-workers imported the discriminatory system’s practices into their team and Cisco’s workplace.

Doe’s supervisors and co-workers, Defendants Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella, are from India’s highest castes. Both knew Doe is a Dalit. They had certain expectations for him at Cisco. Doe was expected to accept a case hierarchy within the workplace where dough held the lowest status within the team, and as a result received less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/color. They also expected him to endure a hostile work environment. When Doe expectedly opposed the unlawful practices, contrary to the traditional order between the Dalits and the higher castes, Defendants retaliated against him. Worse yet, Cisco failed to even acknowledge the unlawful nature of this conduct, nor to take any steps necessary to prevent such discrimination, harassment, and retaliation from continuing in its workplace.

Not only did Cisco disregard Doe, but also its own workforce. For decades, similar to Doe’s team, Cisco’s technical workforce has been — and continues to be — predominantly South Asian Indian. According to the 2071 EEO-1 Establishment Report (EEO-1 Report), for example, Cisco has a significant overrepresentation of Asian employees compared to other companies in the communications, equipment, and manufacturing industry (NAICS 3342) in the same geographic area, which is statistically different at nearly 30 standard deviations. Such overrepresentation is also present in management and professional job categories. In addition to Cisco’s direct workforce, Cisco also employs a significant number of South Asian Indian workers through Indian-owned consulting firms. When combining its direct employees and consultants together, Cisco is among the top five H-1B visa users in the United States. Over 70 percent of these H-1B workers come from India, Outside of San Jose, Cisco’s second-largest workforce is in India.

Although Cisco has employed a predominantly South Asian Indian workforce for decades, Cisco was — and continues to be — wholly unprepared to prevent, remedy or deter the unlawful conduct against Doe or similarly situated lower-caste workers. Cisco failed to take any steps whatsoever to prevent “… inequalities associated with [c]aste status, ritual purity, and social inclusion [from] becom[ing] embedded in its workplace, which is a documented problem for “… American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant communities.”

Caste distinctions are almost entirely foreign to Americans whose own civic distinctions often are unclear to foreigners. But Indian H-1B workers tell Breitbart News that caste distinctions can be evident in casual contact, names, and in business developments.

“Americans are culturally oblivious to this idea that something so Third World would be in the United States,” said Jay Palmer, a consultant helps India’s mistreated visa workers to sue U.S.-based corporations. “I’ve had so many Indians tell me it is an Indian Mafia — they use those words.”

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at


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