September 2022 Caste Discrimination in the United States

September 16th, 2022

Event Recording

Event Agenda PDF

South Asia’s caste system is a socio-political basis for discrimination, with Dalits, persecuted as the “untouchables” of society, facing prejudice in the workplace and academia.  As South Asians have migrated to jobs and academic positions in the United States, caste discrimination has followed. This webinar opens with a presentation about the origins of caste and how it drives discrimination in society.  We will then explore protections against caste discrimination in the U.S., both in the academy and the workplace.  We will discuss the recent inclusion of caste as a protected status in California State University’s anti-discrimination policies and a landmark lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing against Cisco Systems alleging discrimination against a Dalit engineer based on his caste status. 


Speaker Biographies

  • Kevin Brown Headshot

    Kevin Brown

    • Professor and Chairholder of the Mitchell Willoughby Endowed Professorship University of South Carolina School of Law & Richard S. Melvin Emeritus Professor Indiana University Maurer School of Law
    • He/Him

    Professor Brown joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina Law School on June 1, 2022. Before that, he had been on the faculty of Indiana University Maurer School of Law since 1987. In 1982, Professor Brown graduated from Yale Law School in 1982. Among the courses he regularly teaches are Race & Law and Transnational Inequality. Brown has published 2 books and over 80 articles or comments on issues including comparisons of struggles of blacks in the US with those of Dalits in India and blacks in South Africa. Brown is the lead author in a forthcoming article to be published by the New York University Review of Law & Social Change that is entitled Does U.S. Federal Employment Law Now Cover Caste Discrimination Based on Untouchability?: If all Else Fails There is the Approach from the Application of Bostock v, Clayton County. An original participant of the Critical Race Theory Workshop in Madison, Wisconsin in 1989, Brown is a frequent speaker at scholarly conferences on issues of race and discrimination. He has spoken about his research over 200 times, including at Oxford University, Harvard University, School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London (SOAS), the High Commission of India in London and at celebrations of the work of Dr. Ambedkar in London, at Columbia University, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Varanasi, and Bangalore. In addition, Brown has made three academic trips to India and participated in a dozen conferences comparing the liberation struggles of Dalits and African-Americans at institutions including the Indian Institute for Dalit Studies, University of Delhi, JNU, Jindal Global Law School, National Law School in Bangalore, University of Mumbai and the Tata Institute.

  • Lalit Khandare Headshot

    Lalit Khandare

    • Director of MSW Program and Co-Chair of Claire Argow Social Work Program, Pacific University
    • He/Him

    r. Khandare is Director of MSW Program and Co-Chair of Claire Argow Social Work Program at Pacific University and serves on EDI committee and Faculty Senate. Dr. Khandare is also appointed as a member on Global Young Academy (GYA) for 2022-2027 and he serves as Lead, Systemic Discrimination Focus Task Group, GYA. Dr. Khandare is a Chair of Council on Global Social Issues, and Commissioner on Global Social Work Education at Council on Social Work Education. Lalit has global experience in working with cross-cultural population, like immigrant population, racial and ethnic minorities, homeless, sexual and gender minority, and refugees. His work focuses on interpersonal violence, global social work, intersection of caste & race, and human rights. He is engaged in research and evaluation in the area of public housing & urban redevelopment, homelessness, public health, domestic violence, and social inclusion.

  • Guha Krishnamurthi Headshot

    Guha Krishnamurthi

    • Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma College of Law
    • He/Him

    Guha Krishnamurthi is an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Guha’s research interests are in criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and antidiscrimination law. Prior to joining the University of Oklahoma College of Law, Guha taught at South Texas College of Law and as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School. He clerked for the Honorable Goodwin H. Liu of the California Supreme Court, the Honorable Andrea R. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He practiced as a litigator in Los Angeles, where he specialized in general commercial litigation, white-collar crime, and antitrust. Guha obtained his J.D., with high honors, from the University of Texas School of Law

  • Ann Noel Headshot

    Ann Noel

    • Founder, Noel Workplace Consulting & Former General Counsel, California Fair Employment & Housing Commission
    • She/Her

    Ann M. Noel, Esq. is the founder of Noel Workplace Consulting, specializing in legal advice and training on California and federal employment law compliance, especially sexual harassment prevention, disability and leave laws. Through the end of 2012, Ms. Noel was the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission’s Executive and Legal Affairs Secretary, serving as its General Counsel, crafting California’s regulations on mandatory sexual harassment training, disability and pregnancy discrimination, and its chief administrative law judge, adjudicating employment, housing and public accommodation cases.

    Ms. Noel is the Co-Director of the Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law’s Gender Harassment/Violence Working Group, organizing international conferences on the topic, and working with international partners to develop suggested model laws and practices regarding harassment. She is a Co-editor of the Berkeley Center’s book, The Globalization of the #MeToo Movement, published in 2020 (, which describes the #MeToo movement worldwide, and suggests techniques to combat harassment.

    Ms. Noel has written extensively about employment and housing discrimination law, writing and editing practice guides on fair employment, fair housing, the Violence Against Women Act, and hate crimes.

    Ms. Noel has taught employment discrimination law at New College School of Law in San Francisco. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Davis School of Law.

  • Denise Oldham

    • Former Title IX Officer & Director of the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, UC Berkeley
    • She/Her

    Denise Oldham is the former Director of the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination at the University of California, Berkeley. She oversaw institutional compliance efforts with UC policy and related state and federal laws related to protected category discrimination and harassment. Denise is also UC Berkeley’s former Title IX Officer, where she directed compliance programs related sex and gender discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, pregnancy discrimination and athletics gender equity. These programs include investigation and other forms of complaint resolution, and mandated educational programs for students, staff and faculty. Prior to joining the Title IX office, Denise managed the Affirmative Action program and Equal Employment Opportunity compliance in the office of Staff Equity and Diversity Services at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the University of California, Denise worked for Price Waterhouse as an international management consultant in Europe, Africa, South America and the U.S. She received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a graduate certificate from Georgetown University.

  • Prem Pariyar Headshot

    Prem Pariyar

    • Commissioner, Alameda County Human Relations Commission
    • He/Him

    Prem Pariyar is a Nepali grass root community organizer and an alumnus at California State University, East Bay. Prem has more than 15 years of experience working in the grass root community. Belonging to the caste oppressed community, he is passionate about serving the voiceless and marginalized caste oppressed communities and educating people about caste apartheid in the South Asian diaspora in the US. Prem was one of the student leaders fighting to add caste as a protected category in the CSU system. In 2021, he was a recipient of the SOLAR Award (Outstanding Student Leader) at Cal State East Bay. Currently he is an elected delegate to the National Association of Social Workers assembly from the California Chapter. On March 23,2022, he was appointed in the position of Commissioner in the Alameda County Human Relation Commission by the County Board of Supervisors. He has been involved for state level policy advocacy for Caste equity. He has been serving as the caste equity organizer associate in Equality Labs. His advocacy story was featured in leading global medias including LA Times, CNN News, San Francisco Chronicles, Al Jazeera News, NBC News, KQED and so on.

  • Patrick Patterson Headshot

    Patrick O. Patterson

    • Law Office of Patrick O. Patterson
    • He/Him

    Patrick Patterson is a civil rights lawyer who served as Senior Counsel to the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2010 to 2014, and as Deputy Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs from 2014 to 2017. A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School, he has taught employment discrimination law, among other subjects, at the University of Wisconsin and UCLA Law Schools, and he served as Assistant Counsel (New York) and Western Regional Counsel (Los Angeles) for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. He is admitted to practice in California and Wisconsin as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts, has litigated many civil rights and consumer class actions, and currently has a private practice based in California.

  • Ann Ravel Headshot

    Ann Ravel

    • RavelLaw
    • She/Her

    Ann M. Ravel was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President Barack Obama on June 21, 2013. After her appointment received the unanimous consent of the United States Senate, Ms. Ravel joined the Commission on October 25, 2013. She served as Chair of the Commission for 2015 and Vice Chair for 2014 before leaving in 2017.

    Previously, Ms. Ravel served as Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), to which Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed her. At the FPPC, Ms. Ravel oversaw the regulation of campaign finance, lobbyist registration and reporting, and ethics and conflicts of interest related to officeholders and public employees. During her tenure at the FPPC, Ms. Ravel was instrumental in the creation of the States’ Unified Network (SUN) Center, a web-based center for sharing information on campaign finance.

    Before joining the FPPC, Ms. Ravel served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Torts and Consumer Litigation in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. Ms. Ravel also worked as an attorney in the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office, ultimately serving as the appointed County Counsel from 1998 until 2009. Ms. Ravel represented the County and its elected officials, provided advice on the state Political Reform Act, and initiated groundbreaking programs in elder abuse litigation, educational rights, and consumer litigation on behalf of the Santa Clara County government and the community.

    Ms. Ravel has served as an elected Governor on the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California, a member of the Judicial Council of the State of California, and Chair of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. In 2014, she was named a California Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer magazine for her work in Government law, and in 2007, the State Bar of California named Ms. Ravel Public Attorney of the Year for her contributions to public service.

    Ms. Ravel received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Ms. Ravel is the daughter of a Latin American immigrant mother and an American father. She was raised in Latin America before her family settled in the San Francisco Bay area, which she considers home.

  • Nani Walker Headshot

    Nani Sahra Walker

    • Director, Los Angeles Times Short Docs
    • She/Her

    Nani Sahra Walker is the director of L.A. Times Short Docs, a monthly series from L.A. Times Studios. As a journalist and filmmaker, she has been documenting social change over the past decade from LGBTQ rights in Nepal and voting rights in the American South to the global anti-casteist movement. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, National Geographic and other news outlets. Walker wrote and directed “Alice Waters: How to Start a Food Revolution” (2021), a short doc about the food movement sparked by the legendary Chez Panisse chef in response to industrial farming. Her debut feature doc on the fight for LGBTQ right in Nepal screened at Outfest and Frameline among dozens of festivals worldwide and is distributed by the Center of Asian American Media. Walker is an alumna of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Boston University.

  • Dianne Woods Headshot

    Dianne Rush Woods

    • Professor Emerita, CSU East Bay
    • She/Her

    Dr. Woods is Professor Emerita and a founding member of the Department of Social Work at CSUEB. She received her MSW from UCLA in l976, her LCSW in 1978 and her PhD in Social Work from UC Berkley in 2001. She served as a Social Work professor for 14 years and then accepted two administrative posts. The first was serving as chief of staff to President Leroy Morishita. The second was accepting a position as the first University Diversity Officer at CSU East Bay. In spring 2017, after five years in this role, Dr. Wood retired from the University. Since then she has taught part-time in the Social Work program and provided Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultation to institutions of higher education.