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July 14, 2023 RAPID RESPONSE

Caste Discrimination in the United States: What Every Lawyer Should Know About This Growing Civil Rights Issue

The U.S. legal community generally is unfamiliar with caste-based discrimination and its impact on civil rights. However, efforts to end caste-based discrimination in the United States have grown considerably in the past few years—making caste an issue that American attorneys need to understand. Earlier this year, Seattle City Council passed a first-in-nation law to amend anti-discrimination protections in employment, public places, housing, and contracting to include caste as a protected class. California is considering a similar bill, SB 403, that will make explicit pre-existing protections against caste-based discrimination in California. Other states are expected to follow suit. How does an attorney unfamiliar with the concept of caste-based discrimination make sense of the current debate? What is caste discrimination and why is it relevant in the United States? Why is an issue that has received widespread, bipartisan support still subject to fierce opposition and disinformation campaigns? These are some of the pressing questions covered in this webinar that aims to educate attorneys on this important and growing civil rights issue.

Welcome Remarks:

  • Juan R. Thomas – Chair, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Of Counsel, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.


  •  Tarina Mand – 2020-21 President, South Asian Bar Association of San Diego; Chair, Racial Justice Task Force, South Asian Bar Association of North America; Attorney, The Dixon Firm
  •  Navdeep Singh – Co-Chair, Civil Rights Committee, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  • Thenmozhi Soundararajan – Executive Director, Equality Labs; Author, The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition
  •  Ajantha Subramanian – Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University;  Author, The Caste of Merit: Engineering Education in India


  • Wendy C. Shiba – 2012-13 President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; Vice Chair, Rights of Women Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice


PowerPoint Presentation

Sample EEO Policy | California Civil Rights Department

Senate Bill 403

Caste Ordinance | Seattle Office for Civil Rights

The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition | Thenmozhi Soundararajan

Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur, Nirvikar Singh, The Other One Percent: Indians in America, Oxford University Press, 2016.

Aparna Gopalan, The Hindu Nationalists Using the Pro-Israel Playbook, Jewish Currents

Paula Chakravartty and Ajantha Subramanian, Why is Caste Inequality Still Legal in America? NYT May 25, 2021. 

Rohit Chopra and Ajantha Subramanian, Caste discrimination exists in the US too -- but a movement to outlaw it is growing, Time Magazine, Feb 11, 2022. 

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