The woman’s case in California state court is the latest to allege that workplace prejudice in Silicon Valley targets cultural prejudices of some South Asian tech workers. Cisco Systems Inc. is fighting a lawsuit filed by the California Civil Rights Bureau for alleged bias against a member of India’s so-called lower castes known as Dalits.
Anita Nariani Schulze is part of the Sindhi minority — she’s Hindu, with ancestry in the Sindh region of what is now Pakistan. Her complaint alleges that her senior and direct managers, both male, have consistently barred her from meetings, while inviting her male colleagues, criticizing her, micromanaging her work and depriving her of bonuses, despite positive performance evaluations and significant team contributions.
Schulze claims that the managers’ animus reflects sexism, racism, religious prejudice and discrimination based on national origin. The Sindhi-Hindu nationality is “known for its technical acumen” and its gender equality, she says, which “exacerbated the discriminatory treatment of the managers.”
In a preliminary ruling on Wednesday, Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Sunil R. Kulkarni rejected Apple’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Although Kulkarni did not rule on the merits of the case, Schulze said she has adequately supported her legal claims. Apple had argued that its claims were not specific enough and were based on stereotypes.
But the judge rejected Schulze’s request to represent a group of female Apple employees who have faced discrimination in the workplace for the past four years. He agreed with Apple that it showed no pattern of discrimination that could be applied to a broader group.
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It was not clear from the court’s file whether the judge will hold a hearing on Thursday before making a final decision.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the Cisco case, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged that two Indian employees of the San Jose-based company discriminated against a Dalit employee on the basis of caste.
Cisco has denied the claims, stressing that it has “zero tolerance for discrimination”. It also said the lawsuit should be thrown out because caste is not a protected category under US civil rights law.Stay on top of technology and startup news that matters. Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest and must-have tech news delivered straight to your inbox.
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