HAF files motion to intervene in Santa Clara Co. Superior Court
Last week the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) filed a motion in Santa Clara
County Superior Court to intervene in the case of California Department of Fair
Employment and Housing v. Cisco Systems. HAF has filed for injunctive relief to
prevent the state’s overreach and violation of Hindu American rights under the
First and Fourteenth Amendment and California’s
Unruh Civil Rights Act. HAF’s motion to intervene takes no stance on the
specific allegations of discrimination in the case.
HAF is represented in this motion by Narayan Travelstead PC, of Pleasanton, California.
“HAF vehemently opposes all discrimination and stopping it is a worthy goal,
one that directly furthers Hinduism’s teachings about the equal presence of the
divine in all people, said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s Executive Director. “But,
wrongly tying Hindu religious beliefs to the abhorrent act of caste
discrimination undermines that goal and violates the First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights of all Hindu Americans.”
In its complaint, California
argues that Cisco failed to address discrimination against one of its engineers
by co-workers on the basis of his presumed caste. California goes on to state that caste is “a
strict Hindu social and religious hierarchy” and therefore an integral part of
Hindu teachings and practices.
Framing its argument in this way, California
is attempting to do what the Constitution clearly says it cannot, HAF said:
defining Hindu religious doctrine for Hindus.
“In the United States,
there is no role for government to define our religious beliefs, whether it be
Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity or any other. In fact, the
Constitution expressly prohibits it. HAF’s actions are an important step in
protecting the rights of all Americans,” stated Tim Travelstead, lead attorney
attempted violation of the First Amendment rights succeed, the due process
rights of all Hindu Americans would also be violated, claimed Foundation
In its filing, HAF asserted that California
provided no definition or workable method to determine anyone’s caste other
than an assumption that Hindus of Indian decent must identify as part of a
specific caste, ascribe to a “social and religious hierarchy,” and engage in
caste discrimination. This inaccurate and unconstitutional definition would
perversely lead to increased targeting of and discrimination against
Indian-origin, and particularly Hindu workers, the Foundation stated.
more at www.hinduamerican.org