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

If you only look at the unemployment rate and the stock market, you probably think most families are [...]

It’s a strikingly familiar tale in North Carolina: voters are waiting with bated breath for a court [...]

This week, five years after a federal judge struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, t [...]

As the proud owner of a new restaurant, Leonardo Williams surely had other things to do this past Sa [...]

The post Rep. Lewis’ divided interest appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

We’re now almost 33 months into the one of the darkest eras in American political history – a period [...]

You can’t teach an old dog new lies. Two years ago, while stumping to give huge tax breaks to multin [...]

"The struggle for gay rights is over,” the writer James Kirchick wrote in The Atlantic in June. [...]