Matahari Celebrates Victory for Au Pairs Who Will Continue to be Protected by the 2014 Domestic Workers' Law
Boston, MA – 1 August 2017 - a Massachusetts federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Cultural Care Au Pair. The lawsuit argued that the labor protections provided by the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights cannot be applied to au pairs. Au pairs are young people who come to the U.S. on J-1 cultural exchange visas. Through the au pair program, they earn $195 weekly for up to 45 hours of childcare that they provide to host families. Both au pairs and host families pay au pair agencies, like Cultural Care Au Pair, to participate in the program.
This lawsuit was the latest attempt by Cambridge-based Cultural Care Au Pair, a division of EF Education First, to strip 1,200 Massachusetts au pairs of their rights under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a 2014 law that clarified coverage of the Massachusetts minimum wage and overtime laws for domestic workers, as well as extended labor protections such as rest periods, protection from unauthorized pay deductions, notice of termination or severance pay for live-in workers, anti-discrimination protections, and access to parental or sick leave to all domestic workers, including au pairs. Previously, Cultural Care had unsuccessfully attempted to exclude au pairs from the law’s protections through the Attorney General’s regulations process and through amendments introduced in the state legislature. The Office of Attorney General Maura Healey is defending the application of the law to au pairs in court and argued the Motion to Dismiss that was granted yesterday.
The Matahari Women Workers’ Center, as part of the MA Coalition for Domestic Workers, has brought together au pairs and other childcare workers to ensure that au pairs receive the same rights and protections as other domestic workers.
"As a career nanny and former au pair, I know that caring for children is real work no matter what your title is. Au pairs are expected to work up to 45 hours per week, with limited time off, and au pair agencies claim this is a cultural exchange. I am relieved by the court’s decision to dismiss Cultural Care’s case and am prepared, along with other nannies and au pairs, to ensure that au pairs receive full protection under the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and other labor laws," says Thaty Oliveira, member-leader with the Matahari Women Workers’ Center.
Matahari Women Workers’ Center is a Boston-based community organization, working to end gender-based violence and exploitation. Founded in 2002, Matahari is a leading force in advancing the rights of women workers, immigrant families, and survivors of violence and exploitation. Matahari was instrumental in passing the 2014 Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which extends basic labor protections to nannies, au pairs, adult caregivers, and house cleaners.