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Abused maid could get $1.5 million payday

An Indian woman who worked as a maid for a diplomat from her native country in New York City is entitled to $1.5 million, a magistrate judge said Wednesday.

The seven-figure award, which still must be agreed to by the district court judge overseeing the case, includes $500,000 for "emotional distress" to which Shanti Gurung was subject at the hands of her former employer, The New York Post reported. 

In the suit against Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh, Gurung describes a life of virtual slavery, saying she was paid only $120 for more than three years of grinding, 16-hour shifts seven days a week. Gurung says she was forced to sleep on the floor and denied food and was even ordered to give her boss daily massages — despite the fact that Malhotra's diplomatic work focused on women's rights issues.

The Post cited the judge's recommendation, which touched on some of Gurung's ordeals such as “work[ing] without pay by seizing her passport and visa, restricting her ability to leave their apartment, and constantly warning her that if she traveled on her own without their permission, she would be arrested, beaten, raped and sent back to India as ‘cargo.’ ” 

Gurung was already awarded a default judgement against the Malhotras, who returned to India before they could be served with their former employee's lawsuit. Neena Malhotra is now working in New Delhi at the External Affairs Ministry, which has defended her against Gurung's allegations.