The founder of a large IT staffing company that has an Irvine office is paying more than $130,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging she overworked and underpaid a domestic worker who was forced to sleep on a carpet in a garage near the family dog.
In doling out $54,348 in wages, $54,348 in liquidated damages and $26,304 in gross sum damages, according to the U.S. Labor Department, which brought the claim against Himanshu Bhatia last September, the Rose International CEO denies any wrongdoing.
“Mrs. Bhatia firmly denied all of the claims made by the department regarding the employee, whom Mrs. Bhatia contended had been treated as a virtual member of the family,” reads a statement from the family. “The lawsuit was resolved for less than the cost of continuing to litigate the case and will allow Mrs. Bhatia to focus on her business affairs.”
Sheela Ningwal had alleged she had to work 15.5 hours a day, seven days a week, and had to sleep in the garage even if she felt ill. Shortly after the Labor Department claim was filed, Bhatia’s daughter issued a statement on behalf of her mother that said Nigwal’s story was “complete fiction” and that the allegations were “awful and hurtful things.”
The CEO has offices and homes throughout the country, including two houses in San Juan Capistrano as of last September.