Courts & the Law, News

Underpaid au pair workers settle lawsuit for $65.5 million

Childcare workers who earn less than the minimum wage had a big win this month with the settlement of a lawsuit against 15 companies who recruited so-called au pairs from around the world.

The former employees, who traveled from their home countries on J-1 visas to work for U.S. families, were typically paid a salary that works out to $4.35 per hour, for 45 hours of work per week.

The lawsuit alleged that the au pairs’ sponsoring agencies colluded to create the impression that State Department salary guidelines for paying au pairs set a ceiling on compensation rather than a floor.  If it is approved by the court, 100,000 former au pairs will benefit from the settlement, which will pay out $65.5 million in back wages.

The J-1 program, and particularly the au pair part of the program, is marketed as a cultural exchange.  Critics describe it as a work visa with little oversight and serious abuses.  Former employees recount stories of financial struggle and lack of support from sponsoring agencies.

Persons who worked as au pairs on J-1 visas between January 1, 2009 and October 28, 2018 may benefit from the settlement if it is approved.  Information can be found here.  Current au pairs may be able to use this model agreement to help negotiate understandings with their employers, and can find more information about their legal rights here.

Carol Brooke is a senior attorney with the N.C. Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights project. 

Check Also

Trump administration rule change would stymie workers’ suits against employers

“The Future of Work.” It sounds so promising, ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Numerous questions remain, however, about the treatment of dozens of other trans inmates Kanautica Z [...]

The Trump Administration’s new public charge rule will do more to keep families separated than it wi [...]

GIBSONVILLE -- The tobacco fields near East Guilford High School are reminders of times bygone when [...]

They clutter the gutters and girdle the turtles. They snag in the trees and float in the seas.  Plas [...]

It can’t have escaped many folks’ notice – even those, bless their hearts, for whom the really big n [...]

Today we wait. We wait for the judges, who retired to their chambers weeks ago in the Common Cause v [...]

There was a fascinating exchange regarding North Carolina’s ongoing budget stalemate last week at a [...]

The post Red Flag laws versus White Flag lawmakers appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]