Caste Case: Cisco Employees Demand Apology
India-West Staff Reporter
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — More than 30 current and former employees of Cisco Systems have blasted the California Civil Rights Department for being “dishonest” in handling the high-profile caste case, which they said unfairly targeted both them and their employer.
Due to misrepresentations made by CRD in court documents against our organization’s culture and ethics, “we experienced a detrimental impact on our lives,” the employees said in an open letter released on June 8. The letter also points out that the CRD’s case has damaged the image of businesses employing people of South Asian immigrant backgrounds and has made it difficult for them to be in Silicon Valley.
“This has hindered our careers and left a damaging scar on many lives. People avoided social interactions with many colleagues in fear of being subject to, or of being party to some form of perceived discrimination,” the letter reads. “Especially if they had an immigrant South Asian background, derogatory questions based on a person’s ethnic background became common. Even the reputed Washington Post showed no concern in publishing anonymous letters with no credible supporting evidence generalizing that “working with Indian managers is a living hell”. Thus, demonstrating blatant racism. This took a severe emotional toll on us.”
“We find it necessary that the CRD apologize publicly and exonerate us of any implied guilt and in so doing help restore our reputations. In the absence of the above, this slander will accompany us to our permanent detriment,” the employees demand in their letter.
The letter also says, activist organizations,” claiming to represent Dalits, opportunistically echoed the dubious accusations brought by the CRD against CISCO employees, leading to extensive negative press coverage.”
It continues, “allegations were presented as facts and hateful slurs like ‘those corporate malignant brahmins’ were splashed in a trial by media against the two Cisco engineers at the center of this dubious case. Additionally, there were over 53,000 mentions of the hitherto alien word “caste” in U.S. media and Cisco was continuously named in articles,” forcing them to endure a presumption of guilt that tarnished their reputations.
The Cisco employees’ letter continues, “As a result of the adverse publicity from the CRD’s hyperbole, all employees, especially immigrant South Asians were deemed responsible for degrading the culture at Cisco. Despite Cisco’s public statements, the reputational harm done to us has not been dispelled. Redress for this harm caused to our personal lives is likely not possible, and the time we have lost is gone forever. Without restitution, our reputations are tarnished permanently.”
The employees assert in the letter that, “a network of activist groups, such as Equality Labs, exacerbated their misery with libelous lies empowered by a taxpayer-funded state agency. It is imperative that the CRD take a public stance to exonerate Cisco employees of any implied guilt and help restore their reputations,” it adds.