NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former housekeeper for the top diplomatic official at India’s consulate in New York filed a lawsuit on Monday saying he took her passport and intimidated her into a year of forced labor, where she was subjected to 105-hour workweeks for only a few dollars an hour in pay.

The woman, Santosh Bhardwaj, said in her lawsuit that she finally “escaped” the arrangement after Consul General Prabhu Dayal made what she thought was an inappropriate sexual advance by allegedly asking her to massage his legs. She said she had been getting paid $300 per month — far less than the $10 per hour in her contract.

Dayal denied that Bhardwaj had been paid any less than what she was promised, or that he did anything to keep her in his household against her will. He also expressed anger that she had “absconded” from the job without warning and said he had “never, ever asked her to give me a massage.”

“This is a lie. I keep the passports of my family members because I don’t want them to be lost or misplaced,” Dayal said. “If I had ever any desire that she should not be allowed to go back to India, I wouldn’t have sent her from Morocco on leave at my expense and allowed her to come back.”

Both sides describe an abrupt end to a work relationship that had, until last year, been uneventful.

Before coming to the U.S., Bhardwaj worked for Dayal’s family off-and-on for five years in India, Morocco and Mexico. In 2009, she agreed to work at his Manhattan residence under a contract that guaranteed her $10 per hour for 40 hours of service per week.

But when she arrived, the suit claims, Dayal confiscated her travel documents, had her sleep in a storage room, and worked her from morning to night, seven days a week with no overtime pay and no days off. Her salary, according to the lawsuit, wasn’t paid directly; Dayal deposited the money in an account in India that she couldn’t access from the U.S.

Very little money came through, the suit said. Bhardwaj’s lawyers said the pay, made in rupees, amounted to an average of $300 per month.

Dayal’s wife, Chandini Dayal, repeatedly “threatened to send Ms. Bhardwaj back to India if she did not do as told, or did not work faster,” the suit said.

Bhardwaj, who had been issued a visa to travel to the United States because of her employment with a diplomat, said she felt trapped, but finally fled the household in 2010 after Dayal responded to a question about the whereabouts of her money by saying she could earn it by massaging his legs.

Dayal’s lawyer, Ravi Batra, called Bhardwaj ungrateful and claimed she had violated the terms of her visa by quitting her post with the family to work for someone else.

“She has betrayed the trust of the Dayal family, India and the United States with her illegal abandonment of employment in favor of illegal higher pay from illegal employers,” Batra said.

He said she was paid $400 per week, minus U.S. payroll taxes, and lived in a modestly furnished studio in the consular mansion. She only left because she was “apparently crazed about illegally cashing in on America’s need for domestic help” and was upset that Dayal had refused her request to moonlight in another job, he said.

“This fraudster of a woman, seeing dollar signs, has hit on a ‘get rich quick’ scheme after a year and a half of illegally staying and working in New York: fraudulent defamation of a highly respected and honored member of the diplomatic corps,” Batra wrote.

He didn’t address her claims that she wasn’t paid overtime but said she had ample time off from the job.

Bhardwaj is being represented in the case by lawyers with New York’s Legal Aid Society, which provides free legal services to the poor.

One of her lawyers, Hollis Pfitsch, said diplomats working in New York City aren’t exempt from state employment laws and that Dayal was obligated to pay at least the state minimum wage plus overtime for any work in excess of 44 hours per week. She said it is expressly illegal for any employer to take a worker’s passport.

Pfitsch said that, in some ways, the case wasn’t unusual. The Legal Aid Society, she said, has represented a number of foreign workers who have been brought to the United States to work for less than a legal wage.

“We’ve seen a shocking number of these more extreme cases, where people either find workers here or bring them from another country, and pay them little to nothing,” she said.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (20)
  1. Save the Image of the Other Indian-Diplomats ! says:

    Why not Indian Govt. would paqck this Questionable & tinky Diplomat(under problems, Scam, Propaganda, etc.), and, take back into India, and, “Quickly bring a New Indian Diplomat, into USA, (as a Replacement of this Smart Prabhu Dayal)”.
    Why ? India would fall down without this Diplomat(Prabhu Dayal, and, his Cruel lawyer, Ravi BTARA) !

    I would request Mr. Prabhu Dayal, (if he is a real good person), “to go back into India, for the Next Ten Years,(to save the prestiges & dignity of any DIPLOMAT of any Country in the Worls)”.

    It is the secret & hidden issues(with Prabhu Dayal), which has excited & allowed, this Maid, “to outburst, in this way”.

    Before it would get Bifgger & Nasty, “Indian Govt., would replace this Indian Diplomat, by a New Indian Diplomat”.

    Prabhu Dayal’s Life(in due Course), would may prove, whether, “Mr. Prabhu Dayal was/is right or, wrong”.

    Indian Govt. would first “Serve the Rights & Civil-Rights, of Indian Citizens, (without Panicking them, by this unexpected Incidents)”, before, “Indian Govt., would try yo save & establish, an Indian Diplomat, under question”.

    “All the Heavy-Weight-Indian Diplomats”, are to be paid, by the Indian Govt., to serve, or, “To Protect the Rights & Civil-Rights, of any Indian Citizen, as a first action, (whether, he or, she is a maid, or, any Worker, in any country)”.

    Indian Govt. would not be silent to see, that, “The Trust & Prestiges of Indian-Workers, would be destroyed & robbed, by the few & unfortunate, Highly Expenssive Indian Diplomats, outside of India”. This would be thought, in the spectrum of the International Observers & Audiences, “who are watching the whole issues, with the Indian Diplomats’ Attitudes & Gestures, (on the Indian Workers, in another Country, outside of India)”.

    To avoid more & much International Objections & Criticisms, (on the Indian Diplomats, in General), it is always, better, here, at this particular point, “to Replace this highly discussed objectionable Diplomat, by a New & Fresh Indian Diplomatic Officer, as soon as possible”, (which would be positive & parallel, to the Good Image of India, in the World)”.

    Prabhu Dayal, can easily, get a Good Job in India.

    So, why,
    “Mr. Prabhu Dayal, would not allow, another New & Fresh Indian Diplomat, to replace him, as soon as possible, (at this India’s Critical National Crisis of Criticisms, on Indian Diplomats, in General) ” .

    Mr. Prabhu Dayal would himself, activate, to go back into India, permanently, as soon as possible.

    Thanks !

  2. Indrajeet Kashyap says:

    there is nothing surprising in this. i think it is in their habit or may be they are thinking they are in india because elite in india commonly practice this they employ minor childrens in their house which are generally trafficked from remote rural areas.they underpay or do not pay them.sexual exploitation is just an added perk.there are lakhs of minors exploited like slaves in the capital delhi alone but media ignore the story

    1. Santosh Bhardwaj says:

      I pity this lady. She is a cretin.

  3. Dexter says:

    The maid is upper caste, a quick check of her surname

  4. Manny.K says:


  5. Gregory says:

    Whatever the truth of this situation, a jury in “lace pantie” NYC will probably award big rupees to this housekeeper, and her lawyer will probably petition the court for ayslum. As this Indian Diplomat is about to find out, the botoxed and augmented as well as the working stiff are highly sensitive about abuse of women in this country especially by foreigners.

    1. Victor says:

      …as well we SHOULD be sensitive about it…why aren’t you?

  6. Molly says:

    Indians are the worst. I worked for and with Indians for five years and I will never ever make that mistake again. They are the most greedy money hungry people I’ve met. My Indian boss is a chronic liar and steels money from the company then blames it on his American employees. He treats his Indian employees like slaves and he thinks nothing of breaking labor laws constantly. I can honestly say I have learned to have nothing but disgust and despise for Indians. Everything this housekeeper said about her boss sounds like classic Indian behavior. I wish her all the luck in the world with her lawsuit.

    1. Winston says:

      …but I’m sure that you don’t have a predudical bone in your body though, right?

      1. Molly says:

        It has nothing to do with being prejudiced. Does he sound like someone you would like to work for? If so, there are a few things you should prepare yourself for; you will be told to rent out rooms that have bed bugs, then you’ll be expected to stand idly by while he blames you in front of the customers when they complain about being bitten by them. Also when he signs and cashes your paycheck and then lies and says he cant get a copy of the pay stub because the payroll company won’t give him one and there is “nothing” he can do about it, you’ll be expected to just let it go. You will also have to come up with some quick lies of your own when he overbooks the hotel with group reservations and then leaves the building before they try to check into rooms that are not available. There are lots more things you will need to know but not enough room here to tell you all of them. Let me know how it goes for you.

    2. illy21112 says:

      and their food stinks too.

    3. ravi says:

      i think you need a hug…by an indian.

      1. Molly says:

        Lmao, right, so he can stab me in the back at the same time. I’d rather eat nails.

    4. thomas koovalloor says:

      I know Hon. Prabhu Dayal personally. he is a highly respected individual and he is one of the highest official of Indian Government. Molly has some problem that is why she is blaming all the Indians.. Indians have a culture with moral values than any other nations. Actually it was the duty of the Indian government to protect Brabhu Dayal, he has the Diplomatic Immunity. The govt. of India acted very slow other wise the U.S. government even say a single word about it. Recently many things like this are happening. Why molly is not saying a single word about the head of IMF.. In my opinion Indian government have to think about appointing a very good legal team to handle cases like this. Recently so many Indians became victims like this, including Anand Jon.

  7. fireball says:

    this is stupid , just like blacks sold blacks ,this is people selling and enslaving there own people,hope it is not the white mans fault again

  8. Alok says:

    Typical snobbish Indian behavior which is all too common, especially among the diplomat service.The servants are treated worse than animals. I hope the lady gets justice.

    1. Brit says:

      Indian people are the most polite and nicest people I have ever met. I am an American and they are the best, but when they come over to the USA to try to be like westerners and they give up their extremely high Hindu morals and ethics and degrade themselves with greed, materialism, and start eating meat, drinking and being sex crazy they have achieved the western mentality and that is where they lose.

      1. SeenItBefore says:

        Your comments do not match up with this article.
        The kind of Indian people like this “diplomat” are superficially polite and nice, but have a huge felling of “superiority”. That is why they mistreat people like this housekeeper. They look down on people who are not in their caste. It is built into Indian society.

      2. Indrajeet Kashyap says:

        must be a “internet (psuedo) hindu ” those morons
        idiot is defending which cant be defended.
        blaming your own faults on others
        “extremely high Hindu morals and ethics ”
        yes caste system and untouchability is highly
        moral and ethical.

  9. paerainesan says:

    I can swear by God this has been the sort of exploitation that not only the Indian diplomats but many rich Indian origin employers in very many countries are very fond of, I have see this in malaysia and the ME myself
    I am positive the housemaid has a strong case and she looks honest

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