Indian-American CEO asked to pay USD 135,000 to former domestic help for abuse

Rose International CEO Himanshu Bhatia will have to pay her former live-in domestic service worker back wages and damages under the terms of a consent judgement entered into the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Underlining the commitment to protect workers from exploitation, a US District Court has asked an Indian-American CEO to pay USD 135,000 to her former domestic worker. The Court's decision came after a Labour Department investigation found that she underpaid and mistreated her domestic help.

Rose International CEO Himanshu Bhatia will have to pay her former live-in domestic service worker back wages and damages under the terms of a consent judgement entered into the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Bhatia was named as one of the top 25 women business leaders by Fast Company web magazine in 2012.

Labour Department investigation found that Bhatia wilfully and repeatedly violated federal labour laws' minimum wage and record keeping provisions from July 2012 to December 2014.

The complaint alleged that Bhatia paid her domestic service worker 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.

The Department found that the employee suffered "callous abuse" and retaliation, including being forced to sleep on a piece of carpet in the garage when ill. Bhatia confiscated Ningwal's passport, the complaint alleged.

According to reports, Bhatia terminated Sheela Ningwal in December 2014 after she allegedly found her employee researching labour laws online, and after the worker refused to sign a document stating she was being paid an adequate salary and had no employment dispute with Bhatia.

This is not the first case where an Indian-American has been found in violation of federal labour laws' minimum wage provisions. Earlier in 2013, senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was also indicted on the charges of underpaying her domestic help.

The US Department of State investigated the issue based on the complaint by Khobragade's help, Sangeeta Richard and indicted Khobragade for visa fraud and making false statements about the payment to the help.