California Civil Rights Department accepts caste not essential part of Hinduism

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California Civil Rights Department accepts caste not essential part of Hinduism
New York: In a victory for Hindu Americans, the California Civil Rights Department has amended a 2020 complaint and stated that caste and caste-based discrimination are not an essential part of Hinduism.

The department voluntarily filed a motion in the first weeks of December to amend their complaint against Cisco Systems alleging that caste discrimination occurred at the Silicon Valley tech giant, a statement released by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said on Tuesday.

The amended complaint removes the erroneous and unconstitutional assertion that caste and caste discrimination is an essential part of Hindu religious teachings and practices.

“We believe this is a significant step forward in protecting the First Amendment religious rights of Hindu Americans. As we argued in our Motion to Intervene, the California Civil Rights Department is constitutionally prohibited from defining Hinduism or any religion for that matter,” HAF Managing Director Samir Kalra said.

However, the Washington-based Hindu advocacy group said that several problematic statements and citations in the complaint remain.

Foremost among these is the reliance on the fundamentally flawed and statistically invalid survey by activist group Equality Labs on the alleged high prevalence of caste discrimination in the US, it said.

Further, HAF claimed that the survey has specifically been called into question by academic researchers at the Carnegie Endowment, Penn, and Johns Hopkins, whose work found that caste discrimination in the US was in fact very rare.

According to HAF, the CRD (California Civil Rights Department) continues to pursue its case on the basis of many “false and xenophobic” claims about people of South Asian origin as well as the dubious implication that caste discrimination in India is tied to skin colour.

This, it said, is in an obvious attempt to draw direct parallels with skin-coloured-based racism in the US.

The statement said: “CRD continues to assert what can only be described as counterfactual statements about the nature of what the plaintiff experienced at Cisco Systems, as evidenced by publicly available court documents that have been filed since the CRD filed its original case in October of 2020.

Two Indian-origin Cisco engineers — Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella — were accused in the CRD’s lawsuit of discriminating and harassing an employee on the basis of caste in 2020.

Last year, CRD voluntarily dismissed its case alleging caste discrimination against Iyer and Kompella, while still keeping alive its litigation against tech giant Cisco.

HAF said that its involvement in the case was far from over and that they planned to continue to hold the CRD accountable for its violation of the constitutional rights of Hindu and Indian Americans in California.

“While our motion to intervene was not accepted by the court, we’ll continue to pursue our civil rights claims against the CRD in our ongoing lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Hindu and Indian Americans in California,” HAF Executive Director, Suhag Shukla, said.

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