Himanshu Bhatia
Himanshu Bhatia is the chief executive officer of Rose International, an information technology solutions company with offices in Irvine, Calif.

IRVINE, Calif. (Diya TV) — The chief executive of an IT staffing company with California offices will pay $135,000 to settle claims she mistreated a former domestic employee.

The U.S. Labor Department filed a complaint Aug. 22 against Himanshu Bhatia, the chief executive of Rose International. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, Mo., but has an office in Irvine, Calif. The complaint alleged Bhatia forced Sheela Ningwal to sleep with the family dogs and work 15½-hour days, seven days a week.

According to the complaint, Bhatia forced Ningwal to “work and live in servitude, without any understanding of her rights as an employee or ability to adequately enforce her rights, since Ms. Ningwal’s attempts to enforce her rights resulted not only in the loss of her employment, but of food and shelter.”

Bhatia continues to deny the claims but decided to settle the case to avoid a costly lawsuit.

“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.  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,” the family said in a statement.

Bhatia will pay $54,348 in wages, and additional $54,348 in liquidated damages and $26,304 gross sum damages, the Labor Department stated.

The Department of Labor said Bhatia paid Ningwal, an Indian national, $400 a month plus food in exchange for housework performed seven days a week at Bhatia’s homes in San Juan Capistrano, Miami, Las Vegas and Long Beach. She worked for Bhatia from July 2012 to December 2014. The Labor Department further alleged Ningwal was forced to sleep in the garage on a piece of carpet near Bhatia’s dogs. Ningwal’s passport was also confiscated, according to the Department of Labor.

Bhatia, the Department of Labor said, fired Ningwal after she discovered the woman was researching labor laws on a computer.