An Indian women working as a maid for Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh, who had accused them of treating her like a slave has won a compensation of $1.5 million from a US court.
The maid Shanti Gurung accused the Malhotras of not giving her sufficient food, and making her sleep on the floor of the 3 bedroom apartment of the couples house. She said she was only given leftovers to eat.
US magistrate judge Frank Mass has recommended in a February 22 order that the young woman be paid the stipulated compensation because of the “barbaric treatment” she received when she was employed for the family. The judge expressed his sorrow at the “outrageous and shocking conduct,” meted out to Gurung. “Her documents were seized, her travel was restricted, and she was not permitted to telephone her family.”
“Significantly, Gurung was also deprived of food, which caused her to lose more than sixty pounds in just over three years and was subjected to physical and mental abuse,” Maas added.
The Malhotras had two weeks’ time to file a reply, but they have not done so till March 7, when the period ended, Gurung Lawyer Mitchell Karlan said talking to talking to media.
“The recommendation of the magistrate automatically becomes the final ruling of the court unless an objection was filed by March 7. None has been filed,” Karlan said.
Neena Malhotra has been employed at the Indian Consulate in Manhattan in 2006 as the counselor of press, culture, information, education, and community affairs when she brought Gurung with her as her domestic help. She is currently working at the South block of the MEA.
The recommendation would need to be approved by judge Marrero, but this is merely procedural as at the time of the recommendation it had already been decided that it will become the final ruling if an objection was not filed within 14 days.
The murky history of the Malhotras mistreatment has generated outrage in the media. Gurung has alleged that the Malhotras had sized her passport, and gave her a meager salary while making her work long hours. She was essentially kidnapped, and threatened with rape and beatings if she dared to reveal her state.
Karlan said that the Malhotras had ‘refused’ to participate in the case for a year, and that she will begin the process of tracking down their assets to pay the compensation money.
The diplomat couple had come back to India before the lawsuit was filed. It is now up to India to see justice is done in the case which has caused a stain on the country’s reputation.