CA Medical Board Suspends License of Psychiatrist Sharmistha Barai, Convicted of Forced Labor

February 4, 2020

On January 16, 2020, the Medical Board of California issued a Notice of Automatic Suspension to psychiatrist Sharmistha Barai, advising her that her California medical license was suspended as of July 12, 2019 "by operation of law, pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 2236.1," the section of state law which regards suspension of license in the event of licenseholder being convicted of and incarcerated for a felony.

On March 14, 2019, in the case entitled United States of America vs. Sharmistha Baraia (criminal case number 2:16-cr-00217-MCE), in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Barai, upon jury verdict, was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Forced Labor and two counts of Forced Labor.

The press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California stated that Barai and her husband hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their home in Stockton, California. In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the couple made false claims regarding the wages and the duties of employment. Then, once the workers arrived at the defendants’ Stockton residence, Kartan and Barai forced them to work 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment. Few of them were paid any wage. The pair kept the workers from leaving and induced them to keep working for them by threatening them, by creating an atmosphere of fear, control, and disempowerment, and at times by physically hitting or burning them. When a victim pushed back or said she wanted to leave, it got worse.

According to evidence presented at trial, the couple struck one worker on multiple occasions. Barai threatened to kill her and throw her bones in the garbage, backhanded her across the face for talking back, and slammed her hands down on a gas stove, causing her to suffer first and second degree burns on her hands from the flames. The couple also threatened several other victims to coerce them to keep working, including by telling the victims they would report them to police or immigration authorities if they tried to leave. Throughout the victims’ time in the defendants’ home, they were deprived of sleep and food. The defendants subjected the victims to verbal abuse and harassment in an effort to intimidate them into continuing to provide labor and services.

According to the Medical Board of California and other sources, Barai is a psychiatrist who graduated with a medical degree from the University of Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College in 2002 and began her psychiatry residency at University of St. Louis School of Medicine beginning in 2009.  She has held medical licenses in Missouri, North Carolina, and New Mexico and currently has active licenses in California as well as Florida, where she was employed by Orlando Behavioral Healthcare, according to that business’ website.

The Medical Board's document states that Barai is currently housed at the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada City, California awaiting sentencing on January 20, 2020. (Records of the District Court, Eastern District of California however show that Barai has filed a notice of appeal and that no date has yet been set for sentencing.)


Source: “Former Stockton Couple Convicted of Human Trafficking Charges Related to Forced Labor of Foreign Nationals,” press release of U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, March 18, 2019, URL: and Notice of Automatic Suspension Pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 2236.1, In the Matter of the Automatic Suspension Order Against Sharmistha Barai, M.D., Physician's and Surgeon's Certificate No. A 135050, Case No. 800-2016-028702, Medical Board of California, January 16, 2020.


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