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Apple says no to caste-based discrimination, makes it official with its employee conduct policy

Apple says no to caste-based discrimination, makes it official with its employee conduct policy

California: US-based tech giant Apple is taking steps to get rid of the influence of the Indian caste system in Silicon Valley. Prohibiting discrimination based on caste, the company has updated its policies to fight the rigid hierarchy meant to segregate.

Apple updated its general employee conduct policy about two years ago to explicitly prohibit caste-based discrimination. It already had such policies in place to deal with discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, and ancestry. Now, Apple has confirmed that the management updated policy language with the intention of prohibiting discrimination, reported Reuters.

The inclusion of caste in this policy is a step further because the US discrimination laws do not explicitly ban casteism. The Cisco case has prompted many activists and employee groups to seek an updated version of US discrimination legislation. They are also pushing tech firms to update policies to address casteism.

The American tech sector started paying more attention to the Indian caste system when a low-caste engineer working in Cisco Systems accused two higher-caste bosses of blocking his career in June 2020. The California employment regulator sued the company. Apple's workforce also has a large number of Indians.

Cisco denied the accusations saying an internal probe found no evidence of discrimination. The management said the allegations are baseless because caste is not a legally protected class in California. However, the appeals panel did not accept the argument and refused the company's request to push the case to private arbitration. The San Jose-based company will face a public court in 2023.

Apple's policy has added reference to caste in the equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment sections after September 2020. The tech giant confirmed to Reuters that its team assesses policies, training, processes, and resources on a regular basis to ensure that they are comprehensive. "We have a diverse and global team, and are proud that our policies and actions reflect that."

Amazon, Dell, Facebook owner Meta, Microsoft, and Google are some big firms that are yet to address caste in their main global policy. Some have mentioned zero tolerance for caste prejudice in internally published policies.

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TAGS:Apple Cisco Cisco case caste casteism in tech American tech industry 
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