Matahari Calls on 100,000 Au Pairs to Claim Their Part of National $65.5 Million Settlement by May 2nd
Boston, MA - April 24 2019 - A proposed settlement (www.aupairclassaction.com) of a lawsuit filed by au pairs against the U.S. State Department would grant $65.5 million to nearly 100,000 individuals who came to the U.S. on J-1 au pair visas between 2009 and 2018. Among other arguments, the lawsuit claimed that fifteen au pair agencies colluded to keep au pair wages down, disregarding the state minimum wage and overtime laws.
Although au pairs are legally classified as cultural exchange visitors, they work up to 45 hours per week to provide essential childcare services to host families, usually receiving weekly stipends of $195.75, or what amounts to $4.35 per hour. Now these childcare providers have just over a week left to make claims for payment as part of the potential settlement.
The Matahari Women Workers’ Center (“Matahari”), a Boston-based nonprofit that organizes domestic workers, applauds the au pairs who have bravely brought forward this case and their legal team. The deadline for au pairs to make their claims is Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 and as that date quickly approaches, Matahari is conducting outreach to current and former au pairs about the settlement. Au pairs who may be eligible to be part of the settlement, and other interested parties, can reference Matahari’s Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.
Thaty Oliveira, a former au pair and Matahari Member-Leader states, “We are getting out the word about the proposed settlement so that current and former au pairs get the money to which they are entitled. While we must continue to fight for au pairs to be protected by labor laws in Massachusetts and beyond, we recognize that this is a critical step in respecting the hard work of au pairs and in highlighting the systemic problems with the au pair program.”
In Massachusetts, au pairs continue to fight for inclusion into the 2014 Massachusetts Domestic Workers’ Law. Cambridge-based Cultural Care Au Pair, a sponsor agency and affiliate of the global corporation, Education First, has led multiple failed attempts to remove au pairs from the protections of the Domestic Workers’ Law.
Most recently, Cultural Care sued the Massachusetts Attorney General in an effort to remove itself from the law, and is now appealing the decision of the federal district court that ruled against it. Matahari awaits this important ruling.
Matahari pledges to continue to organize for basic protections for au pairs, an increase in the amount of the education credit given to au pairs to allow for a true cultural exchange, unbiased program oversight, and improved screening and regulation of host families.
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.