In yet another instance of alleged caste discrimination at an IT firm in the US, a former Indian-origin employee has filed a lawsuit against the American unit of HCL technologies — HCL America — alleging unlawful termination by a superior based on caste. According to a Moneycontrol report by Swathi Moorthy, the former employee filed a lawsuit on March 25, alleging that his superior Srinivas Chakravarty, a Kamma Naidu by caste, discriminated against him, a Kapu Naidu.
The lawsuit has been filed in a superior court in California, according to Moneycontrol.
Kammas and Kapus have a history of differences that have also led to clashes, especially in the city of Vijayawada. More recently, the issue of reservation for the Kapus in education and jobs in Andhra Pradesh's government sector has heightened tensions between the two communities.
The former employee, who joined HCL in August 2018 in the US, alleged that the discrimination started in October 2018 when Srinivas Chakravarty joined the team as his superior.
As per the lawsuit, the former employee, in the capacity of a technical architect, worked on designing chips for companies like Intel and that he received appreciation for his work from Intel as well.
The lawsuit states that once Chakravarty joined, he started rating the employee poorly on weekly and bi-weekly reviews and was very critical of his work and even allegedly shouted at him during one-on-one review meetings. Chakravarty also allegedly did not take action when a fellow colleague called him ‘black’ due to his complexion, as per the report.
The former employee claims to have also complained to senior management, but to no avail.
He was then allegedly put on a performance improvement plan, made to work on weekends and was eventually terminated ‘for missing a day that he called in sick’ even after he cleared the performance improvement plan.
He also allegedly reached out to HCL for mediation, but when he received no response, he obtained a right to sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and then filed the lawsuit.
The employee told Moneycontrol that he came to know that Chakravarty was terminated soon after the lawsuit was filed but could not independently verify.
This instance has come to light soon after the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California in the United States, on June 30, sued technology major Cisco and its former managers alleging caste-based discrimination at the workplace against a Dalit Indian-American employee. The federal lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), alleges that two former managers discriminated against the engineer because he is a Dalit.
He allegedly received less pay, fewer opportunities, and “other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/colour,” the lawsuit stated.
"It is unacceptable for workplace conditions and opportunities to be determined by a hereditary social status determined by birth. Employers must be prepared to prevent, remedy, and deter unlawful conduct against workers because of caste,” DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement.
In both the lawsuits, a report by Equality Labs was quoted. ‘Caste in the United States’ report in 2018 was based on a survey done by the organisation, which had 1,500 respondents. The lawsuit against Cisco noted that according to the report, 67% Dalits surveyed felt discriminated against at the workplace in the US.