Workers are taking a stand against racial and economic inequity. At TechEquity, our community is tackling these issues head-on by strengthening protections for workers experiencing caste discrimination.
Caste is a system of social stratification and exclusion that impacts over 5.7 million South Asian Americans and over 1.9 billion people worldwide. Ultimately, caste, like race, is a social fiction that exists in communities around the world.
This year we’re excited to sponsor SB 403, the Ending Caste Discrimination Act in California. The bill will explicitly ban caste discrimination in housing, workplaces, and educational settings.
SB 403 has a long road ahead before becoming law, so stay tuned for campaign updates as we fight to protect laid-off workers.
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Caste hierarchy determines your social status, and caste bias expresses an expectation that people should associate only within their own caste. These expectations can range from marriage, friends, jobs, and occupations. Members of lower castes often report exclusion from higher caste social circles and are denied access to occupations associated with higher castes.
Because the caste system encourages people to stay within their own social strata, this can mean that someone’s caste can impact their hiring, education, and housing outcomes. For example, in Silicon Valley, a quarter of technical roles are held by Indian Americans. However, they’re almost exclusively by dominant castes. Lower-caste workers, sometimes referred to as “Dalits” in South Asia, report experiencing casteist slurs, discriminatory hiring and firing, sexual harassment, and aggressive searches for evidence of a closeted Dalit’s caste.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs, breaks down what caste discrimination is and why we need laws to protect against it:
For the nitty-gritty details, you can check out the full bill language here.