Seattle becomes first U.S. city to ban caste discrimination

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Employment Law |

Last month, Seattle became the first U.S. city and in the world outside of South Asia to ban caste-related discrimination. Caste is typically a South Asian practice that designates social status to a person simply based on their birth.

Washington is the home to more than 167,000 residents of South Asian heritage with the majority living in the Greater Seattle area. Many workers of South Asian ancestry face caste discrimination in the workplaces such as the technology and hospitality industries. Seattle is home to a number of well-known technology companies, including Amazon, Expedia Group, Microsoft, Tableau, Nintendo of America and T-Mobile US.

Victims targeted due to dialect, skin tones and surnames

On Feb. 21, the Seattle City Council passed the law banning caste discrimination on a vote of 6-1. Citing that caste practices emigrated to the U.S. from South Asia, the city council declared that without such a law, people who face caste would receive no protections.

Workers in such industries as technology and hospitality have faced many obstacles simply because of their dialect, skin tones and surnames. This includes bullying, harassment and being passed over for promotion.

Added to Seattle’s other anti-discrimination laws

Many South Asians have emigrated to the U.S., bringing with them caste discrimination principles that they adhered to in their home countries, including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Seattle has incorporated the new rule into its anti-discrimination laws already in place pertaining to gender, race, sexual orientation and age.

Workplace discrimination victims should pursue legal action

If you know or suspect that you are the victim of any type of workplace discrimination, understand that you have the law on your side. Do not take this abuse. Stand up for yourself. Consider legal action as your employer should not tolerate discriminatory behavior from co-workers and supervisors. An experienced, assertive and empathetic attorney will guide you.