|Suit claims female Indian consul in NY demanded helper to not fall sick, made fake contract
The indictment against the young female Indian diplomat accused of lying about how much she paid her housekeeper, alleges she had contracted to pay the domestic helper Sangeeta Richard 30,000 rupees (US$573) a month – in line with wages in India, but well below the US minimum wage.
The indictment said Devyani Khobragade, 39, (Pictured) India’s deputy consul in New York, drafted a fake contract, which the servant presented in her visa interview at the US embassy in New Delhi.
On the visa form, Khobragade allegedly stated she would guarantee the servant's working conditions, including providing the minimum wage and restricting her work to 40 hours a week.
In the alleged fake contract, Khobragade listed a monthly pay of US$4,500. The indictment said that figure “did not match any actual income'' – not that of the servant or that of Khobragade, after some media reports indicated prosecutors may have mistakenly looked at the salary of the diplomat instead of the servant.
“Knowing that if the US authorities were told the truth about the actual terms of her employment agreement with the victim, Khobragade would not have been able to obtain a visa for the victim, Khobragade decided to make false statements to the US authorities,'' the indictment said.
The indictment also accused Khobragade of forcing the helper to work for illegally long hours, initially seven days a week, before she was given off part of Sunday.
Khobragade did not give the helper any days off for holidays, vacation or illness, telling her not to fall sick because of the cost of seeing a doctor, the indictment said.
The indictment also accused Khobragade of intimidation, saying that the diplomat and her family called the helper’s husband in India and tried to pressure her against filing complaints.—AFP