himanshu bhatia
himanshu bhatiaLinkedin/ Himanshu Bhatia

The U.S. Department of Labour charged an Indian-American CEO of an IT staffing and consulting firm for mistreating an Indian domestic worker who was in her employment from July 2012 to December 2014.

Himanshu Bhatia, CEO of Rose International and IT Staffing, who enjoys 78 percent approval ratings from employees on Glassdoor, paid Sheela Ningwal only $400 plus food and housing for working 15 and half hours seven days a week in violation of labour laws. Bhatia's company earned more than $357 million in 2011, the Press Trust of India reported. 

The U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E Perez filed a complaint against Bhatia on Aug. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ningwal was made to work at Bhatia's home in San Juan Capistrano and other luxury residences in Miami, Las Vegas and Long Beach, California.

She has been charged for "callous abuse and retaliation," reported PTI.

She also forced the domestic help to sleep on a piece of carpet along with her dogs in the garage when she was unwell. In another instance of abuse, Ningwal was left at home for days without food when Bhatia was not at home.

The Indian woman's movement was also restricted as Bhatia confiscated her passport and would only hand it over when Ningwal was made to travel from California to Miami to work in her penthouse.

Ningwal was fired in December 2014 when Bhatia found her researching "labour laws" online. Bhatia had attempted to coerce Ningwal into signing a document that would absolve her as it said that the help was paid enough salary and had no "employment dispute."

Bhatia had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and record keeping provisions from July 2012 to December 2014, as well as the act's anti-retaliation provision. In California, employees are protected against workplace retaliation i.e. employees being subjected to discrimination or harassment for filing complaints against the organisation.