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Study brings caste discrimination to the forefront

For South Asians on the job in California and throughout the United States, the ancient hierarchy of caste can continue to lead to discrimination in the workplace. Caste conflict and struggles for equality remain an important topic in South Asian politics, and while issues around caste may seldom be discussed outside affected communities in the United States, they can have a significant effect on work relationships.

A survey carried out by Equality Labs notes that caste discrimination continues to affect South Asian Americans in U.S. workplaces. It examined the experience of 1,200 people who shared their histories with caste in America. In the report, researchers note that 66 percent of Dalits, the lowest caste, noted that they had suffered workplace discrimination due to their caste. In addition, 41 percent reported educational discrimination and 25 percent physical assaults, all within U.S. educational institutions and workplaces. In the United States, South Asians are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups, including many members of lower castes. This means that an increasing number of people are at risk for discrimination and mistreatment on the jobs.

Caste biases can appear to be purely intracommunal in nature, but this can have a significant economic effect when decision makers in business from higher castes discriminate against other South Asians. It can be difficult to pursue cases about caste discrimination in court, especially because many non-South Asian Americans are unfamiliar with the dynamics involved and how they relate to racial and national origin discrimination.

People who have suffered discrimination on the job due to their race, sex, religion, gender, disability or national origin have a right to seek justice. An employment lawyer may be able to work with people who have experienced workplace discrimination to achieve compensation for the harms they have suffered as a result. Whether working through the courts or other complaint processes, a lawyer might help victims of discrimination to protect their rights.

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