Seattle bans caste discrimination: What does the law entail? What is the debate around it?

Source: The post is based on the article “Seattle bans caste discrimination: What does the law entail? What is the debate around it?” published in Indian Express on 23rd February 2023

What is the News?

Seattle became the first US city to ban caste discrimination after its local council voted to add caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws.

What is the legislation passed by the Seattle local council?

The legislation bans caste-based discrimination. It recognizes caste as a unique basis of discrimination, similar to race or gender. 

It prohibits businesses from discriminating based on caste with respect to hiring, tenure, promotion, workplace conditions, or wages. 

It also bans discrimination based on caste in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, public transportation, public restrooms, retail establishments, or housing.

What is the significance of this move?

This move has set a precedent for other cities to ban caste-based discrimination in the future.

A similar trend has also been observed in college campuses across the US. In 2019, Brandeis University near Boston became the first US college to include caste in its nondiscrimination policy. Similarly, other universities also passed it.

In 2021, Harvard University instituted caste protections for student workers as part of its contract with its graduate student union.

Why has this move been taken by Seattle?

According to the Migration Policy Institute, the US is the second most popular destination for Indians living abroad, which estimates the US diaspora grew from about 206,000 in 1980 to about 2.7 million in 2021. 

According to a 2016 survey by Equality Labs, Caste based inequalities have become embedded in all the major South Asian American institutions.

The survey also found that two out of three Dalits reported being treated unfairly in their workplace, and one in three Dalits reported discrimination during their education.

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