Indian-origin CEO ordered to pay $135,000 for mistreating domestic worker

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The United States Labour Department has directed an Indian-American head of an IT staffing company to pay her domestic worker $135,000 (around Rs 87,16,000) after an investigation found that she had mistreated her and repeatedly violated federal laws on minimum wage, PTI reported on Tuesday.

Himanshu Bhatia, the chief executive officer of Rose International and IT Staffing, has been asked to pay her former live-in domestic help Sheela Ningwal back wages and damages as per a California US District Court judgement.

The verdict was based on a complaint filed by the US Labour Department in August 2016.

The complaint alleged that Bhatia paid Sheela Ningwal a fixed monthly salary of USD 400 plus food and housing at Bhatia’s home in San Juan Capistrano and other residences in Miami, Las Vegas and Long Beach.

Investigators found that the employee suffered “callous abuse” and retaliation, including being forced to sleep on a piece of carpet in the garage when ill, while Bhatia’s dogs slept on a mattress nearby. The complaint also alleged that Bhatia confiscated Ningwal’s passport.

She was also accused of confiscating Ningwal’s passport and firing her in December 2014 when she found her looking up labour laws online.

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Ningwal had refused to sign a document that said she was being paid an adequate salary and had no employment problems with Bhatia.

According to the Labour Department, Bhatia has agreed to pay USD 54,348 as wages, and additional USD 54,348 in liquidated damages and USD 26,304 gross sum damages.

Published on 19 April 2017

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