Caste Discrimination in the US: What Is It and What Does It Mean?

California has a long history of struggling with various kinds of discrimination. In the past century, the state has slowly but surely implemented laws prohibiting many discriminatory actions, ensuring that all sorts of people have a fair chance of living their lives without facing harassment or bias.

However, while California has some of the broadest anti-prejudice laws in the country, they don’t directly cover something important: caste discrimination. Keep reading to learn what this discrimination is, how it’s handled under California law, and what to do if your career is suffering because of it.

What Is Caste Discrimination?

Castes are a part of Indian culture. Historically, India divided its population into four main castes of ranked importance and a fifth group outside the caste system, sometimes known as “outcasts.” While castes are no longer upheld by Indian law, the bias is still heavily embedded in many parts of the country as well as Indian expatriates.

Caste discrimination is the act of treating someone differently because of their level in Indian society. It has many similarities to US race-based prejudice, though the color of someone’s skin is only part of the reason for prejudice.

Many people from India believe they can identify another Indian person’s caste based on their appearance and name. If someone believes that another person’s standing is lower than their own, they may be biased against them to the point of refusing them jobs or promotions and even actively harassing them. Obviously, people facing any kind of prejudice suffer because of other people’s biases.

Is It Illegal in California?

Caste isn’t explicitly included in California’s discrimination laws. The state prohibits employment prejudice based on classes such as race, color, ancestry, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, medical and genetic information, and marital status.

However, while the word “caste” is not included in the letter of the law, it may be implied. The key terms here are “ancestry” and “color.” An Indian person’s caste is determined by the family they were born into. Some people believe that they can determine castes based on the color of someone’s skin, too. No matter why someone’s ancestry or skin color is causing discrimination, it’s not permitted under California law.

What to Do About Prejudice

If you’re facing prejudice in the workplace, you don’t have to sit down and accept it. You can choose to work with an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer. An experienced attorney will help you understand your options and decide how to resolve your problem. Whether you just want the harassment to stop or you want damages for the harm your career has suffered, a good attorney can make all the difference.

Don’t let prejudice derail your career ambitions. While caste isn’t named directly in anti-discrimination laws, it may still be grounds for a successful lawsuit. You can reach out to the experts at AM+F LLP to discuss your case and learn about your options. The sooner you take action against discrimination, the sooner you can move forward with your career and move past the biases of others.