Cisco Under Fire for Hiring Discrimination

May 10, 2007 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused Cisco Systems of discriminatory hiring practices, saying that the Silicon Valley-based company has a pattern of not hiring minority candidates, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The agency hinges its claim on five 2005 job-applicant complaints from four African-Americans and one Asian-American, who said that Cisco denied their applications on the basis of race. The EEOC said in a letter released to the Mercury News that the complaints “demonstrated an ongoing pattern and practice of not hiring qualified minority candidates based on their race, color and national origin.”

According to the newspaper, Cisco denied the agency’s allegations of “ongoing discrimination.” The San Jose-company said in a letter to the Mercury News that more than 43% of its U.S. workers identify themselves as a member of a minority group and that Cisco is committed to having a diverse workforce.

The five who submitted complaints to the EEOC include:

  • Albert Crews, an African-American from Germantown, Tennessee;
  • Craig Oliver, an African-American from San Antonio, Texas;
  • Sandra Hill, an African-American from Plano, Texas;
  • Jeyakumar Nagarathinam, a South Asian-American from Plano, Texas; and
  • Tony Morris, an African-American from Lewisville, Texas.

All of them, except Morris, filed a joint lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming that they applied for sales jobs on several occasions and were told they were good candidates, but were never hired.

The plaintiffs also say that less than 3% of Cisco’s employees are African-American. According to the Mercury News, the plaintiffs say that whites outnumber African-Americans by 30 times, and Asian-Americans by 10 times.