Devyani Khobragade is a 39-year-old diplomat from India who was stationed in the Consulate General of India in New York, NY. While she was in the United States, Khobragade wished to employ Sangeeta Richard, an Indian citizen, as a nanny and domestic servant. Khobragade helped Richard secure the proper visa and Richard worked in her home from November 2012 until June 2013.
Last June, Khobragade left town and when she returned, Richard was gone. Richard then visited a law office claiming that she had been the victim of human trafficking, and that Khobragade had held her in bondage and in slavery-like conditions. On December 11th, 2013, Khobragade was arrested and then later indicted on charges of visa fraud and violation of labor laws.
The allegations against Khobragade
In order to help Richard get the proper visa, Khobragade submitted an employment contract purported to be the agreement between employee and employer. The contract stated that Richard would be paid $9.75 per hour and would work a normal 40-hour work week. This contract was in line with both federal and state labor laws and the visa was approved based on this contract.
However, Richard claims that this was not the true arrangement between herself and Khobragade. Instead, Khobragade allegedly only paid Richard an average of 30,000 Indian rupees per week, which is equivalent to only $3.31 per hour for a 40-hour work week and is well below minimum wage. Additionally, Richard claims she was forced to work from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m, seven days a week, with only a couple of hours off to go to church on Sunday. She worked approximately 117 hours a week, which means her hourly pay dropped to a negligible $1.14 per hour. Richard claims she was not afforded regular break times or days off. If she fell ill, Richard claims that Khobragade deducted even more pay from her already minimal paycheck. Richard states that she was threatened if she ever complained about her working conditions, pay, or hours, and that Khobragade withheld her passport from her. Khobragade has now been transferred to India, and she maintains that the pay she provided was generous by Indian standards.
However, Khobragade employed Richard in the United States, and she violated both labor laws and immigration laws if the allegations against her are found to be true. Richard has been allowed to stay in the United States as a victim of human trafficking. Many domestic employees face unfair working conditions and pay, especially if they are immigrants. Employees should not have to deal
with sub-par working conditions, no matter what type of position they are in.
If you believe your employer has violated the law, do not hesitate to contact HKM Employment Attorneys as soon as possible for assistance.