Alphabet Must Add “Caste” as a Protected Category and Address Caste-Based Harms in Its Workplace

Monday, June 6, 2022

Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America stands in support of Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Dalit civil-rights scholar and executive director of Equality Labs) and Tanuja Gupta (senior PgM at Google). Thenmozhi Soundararajan was deplatformed by discriminatory and casteist disinformation at Alphabet and Tanuja Gupta was retaliated against (leading to her resignation) for wanting to further the cause of caste equity at the workplace.

Caste-oppressed workers face many barriers throughout the tech industry, including at Alphabet. Caste is a system of oppression and is rampant throughout many American institutions. According to Equality Labs research, two out of three caste-oppressed workers face caste discrimination.

Tech workers around the world are speaking up about casteism and hostile workplaces. Alphabet, on the other hand, has created a hostile work environment for caste-oppressed workers and allies. In an email to over 15,000 Alphabet workers, Gupta shared a disturbing series of events that led to her leaving the company. As reported in the Washington Post, Gupta said, “Retaliation is a normalized Google practice to handle internal criticism, and women take the hit.” Alphabet not only failed its civil rights obligations to create a safe workplace, but also chose to target women of color leaders like Tanuja and Thenmozhi instead of addressing its caste discrimination problem.

Alphabet’s anti-discrimination policy in India already explicitly prohibits caste-based discrimination, but that policy doesn’t apply in the U.S. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment statement in Alphabet’s code of conduct doesn’t list caste as a protected class. This is why in the wake of the CISCO case, we had asked for Alphabet to add caste as a protected category.

As this crisis deepens, we demand that Alphabet management stop creating more harm for it workers and immediately address the issue of caste head-on by:

  • Adding caste to all of its HR policies in all locations.
  • Reinstating Thenmozhi's talk at Google News, and agreeing to a continued commitment to bringing in Dalit and caste-oppressed speakers to address caste discrimination.
  • Commiting to addressing caste discrimination in the company with investments commensurate with its other DEI pledges.

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If you are an Alphabet worker in any location and are impacted by or witness to caste-based discrimination, you can reach out to us at contact@alphabetworkersunion.org.