About 100,000 past and current international au pairs could share in the $65.5 million settlement fund on the claim that the au pair companies were “price fixing” or keeping the hourly rate for these individuals artificially low.
International au pairs are generally young people who come to the U.S. under a special government visa to provide childcare to families and experience the culture in America. The problem, according to the suit, is that a number of au pair sponsor organizations “conspired” to maintain a below minimum wage rate of pay of $4.35 an hour and failed to inform the au pairs of their ability to negotiate a higher pay rate. The lower minimum wage is allowed because au pairs also receive room and board as well as often receive other economic perks from their host families.
The settlement, which came just a month before trial was to begin, includes a commitment from the sponsor organizations to affirmatively notify au pairs of their ability to negotiate their hourly rate.
The legal fight over au pairs continues in Massachusetts where the courts are weighing whether au pairs are employees. Classifying au pairs as employees would not only entitle them to minimum wage but also overtime and other employment laws.