The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) on Monday (10 Aprill) voluntarily dismissed its case against Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella, two Indian-American engineers at Cisco Systems, who faced allegations of caste-based discrimination.
The CDC had filed the case nearly three years ago against Iyer and Kompella, who had allegedly discriminated against and harassed a colleague based on his caste, alleging that the Dalit engineer had received less pay and fewer opportunities.
However, an order from the Santa Clara Superior County Court issued last week dismissed the case against the engineers.
A mediation conference between Cisco and the CRD is still set for 2 May.
The California Civil Rights Department in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday saying the case against Cisco "remains ongoing."
"We will continue to vigorously litigate the matter on behalf of the people of California," CRD was quoted as saying in the statement.
The CRD added that it remains committed to "securing relief and ensuring company wide, corrective action".
According to court filings, Iyer, the CEO of the division, was accused of harassment on the basis of caste despite evidence that he actively recruited “John Doe,” who self-identifies as Dalit and on whose behalf CRD filed suit, and offered Doe a generous starting package with stock grants valued in the millions.
Filed nearly three years ago, CRD’s legal action made headlines in the US and India.
The court records also showed that Iyer also hired at least one other self-identified Dalit who held one of the only three leadership positions in the division. This individual was also offered the other two leadership positions, including the one John Doe claimed discrimination over, prior to Doe filing his discrimination complaint.
According to Hindu American Foundation, a US-based Hindu advocacy group, aside from a lack of factual support, CRD also relied upon a report by an activist entity called Equality Labs to bolster its claims of widespread caste discrimination in the tech sector, including at Cisco.
The judge refused to accept this report as evidence in February 2021.
“Two Indian Americans endured a nearly three year nightmare of unending investigations, a brutal online witch hunt, and a presumption of guilt in the media after the CRD sullied their reputation alleging that they engaged in discrimination based on caste,” said Suhag Shukla, executive director of HAF.
“We are thrilled that Iyer and Kompella have been vindicated along with our position that the state has no right to attribute wrongdoing to Hindu and Indian Americans simply because of their religion or ethnicity," Shukla added.
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