19 Apr 2017
Domestic help abuse: Indian-American CEO Himanshu Bhatia fined $135,000
Indian-American Himanshu Bhatia, CEO of Rose International and IT Staffing, has been ordered to pay $135,000 to her former domestic worker for underpaying and mistreating her.
A US Labour Department investigation revealed that she had repeatedly violated minimum wage and record keeping provisions under labour laws from July 2012 to December 2014.
A complaint had been filed against her in August 2016.
Bhatia made worker sleep on carpet near dogs
Bhatia paid Sheela Ningwal, her domestic help, a salary of $400 a month plus food and accommodation, while making her work over 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ningwal allegedly faced "callous abuse" - she was forced to sleep on a carpet in the garage while Bhatia's dogs slept on mattresses nearby.
Bhatia also confiscated her passport.
Worker terminated after she googled labour laws
Bhatia allegedly terminated Ningwal's employment when she found her researching labour laws on the web. The worker also refused to sign a document saying she was being paid adequately, and that there was no employment dispute with Bhatia.
Will take strong action for workers' protection, says solicitor
"This consent judgement underlines the department's commitment to protecting workers from exploitation," said Janet Herold, solicitor for the Department of Labour's Western Region. Herold added strong and immediate action will be taken "to ensure that workers are protected against retaliation".
Are privileged people prone to abuse of workers?
This comes two days after BookMyBai, a Mumbai-based start-up, announced a ban on celebrities.
Co-founder Anupam Sinhal detailed five instances on his blog when celebs verbally and physically abused workers hired through them; the unnamed people allegedly even refused proper meals and compensation.
He added that out of 10,000 households they had serviced, there hadn't been any abuse complaints from anyone apart from celebrities.