September 25, 2022

The logo of networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc is seen during the GSMA World Congress (MWC) 2022 in Barcelona, ​​Spain, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

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OAKLAND, Calif., Aug 5 (Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc ( CSCO.O ) on Friday lost a court bid to take to private arbitration a case over alleged caste discrimination at its Silicon Valley offices, where Indian-origin executives are accused of prejudice against a colleague from India.

The networking tools and business software company denied the allegations. He had argued in a California appeals court that the state’s Civil Rights Division, which had brought the case on behalf of an employee identified by the pseudonym John Doe, should be subject to an employment arbitration agreement signed by Doe.

“As an independent party, the Department cannot be compelled to arbitrate under an agreement it did not enter into,” the appellate division wrote.

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In a separate order Friday, he told a lower court judge to reconsider a ruling that would have required the state to identify Doe. The lower court had said the law prevented it from considering whether Doe’s family members in India could damage his designation.

The high court wrote that “harm to family members anywhere is a legitimate criterion for determining whether a party should have anonymity.”

Cisco and the government agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ancient socio-religious concept of caste has led to centuries of oppression against certain families born into the lowest groups in India. California claimed that these biases had traveled to the US tech industry, where Indians are the largest group of immigrant workers.

The state sued Cisco in 2020 after Doe complained to her that the company’s human resources staff did not find merit in his concerns that two upper-caste managers allegedly denied him work and devalued him.

The lawsuit has sparked advocacy among US companies, universities and other institutions calling for more guidelines and training on the potential for caste bias.

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Report by Paresh Dave. Edited by David Gregorio & Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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