The California state government on Tuesday said that it has filed a lawsuit against tech conglomerate Cisco Systems for allegedly discriminating against and harassing an Indian-American employee because of his caste.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing did not name the employee in its lawsuit but said that he has been a principal engineer at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose since 2015. The department added that the employee belonged to a Dalit family.

The lawsuit accused former Cisco managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella of enforcing caste-based hierarchy within the organisation, according to Reuters. It also alleged that the firm rejected the employee’s raise and denied him promotion twice.

The state government said in a statement that the employee was deprived of other opportunities at the workplace because of his caste. “The complainant was expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace where he held the lowest status within a team of higher-caste colleagues, receiving less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/colour,” the government said.

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