By: Denise Koslowsky
According to an article in the LA Times, au pairs working in the US from countries around the world will receive a proposed settlement of $65.5 million dollars. The lawsuit was brought by a dozen former au pairs and filed against the companies that enticed them to come to the United States for employment.
Au pairs are actually part of a program overseen by the US State Department. It was launched as a cultural exchange program in 1986 as a way of bringing young people from other countries to the US to live with families and care for their children in exchange for help learning the language. In general, au pairs have less experience than a traditional nanny and often times they earn less as well.
The lawsuit claims that the companies that were authorized to bring them into the country colluded to keep their wages low, often ignoring state minimum wage regulations. It also claims that overtime rules were ignored. Additionally several of the au pairs named in the case alleged that they were treated unfairly; they claim the families they were living with pushed the limits of the chores they required the au pairs to do and in some cases would not allow them to eat with the family.
Although the settlement still needs to be approved by a judge, the companies named in the suit have agreed to make sure all au pairs are informed of their legal rights.
You can read more about the lawsuit here.
Many families with significant assets (or those on their way there) find it important to hire household help, including an au pair, to help their life run more smoothly. In many cases due to the personal relationship they establish with your children, an au pair seems to become part of your family so we understand how it may be difficult to look at them as a threat. However, we feel that in light of this lawsuit it is important that we look at the possibility.
We recommend you consider the following:
At Advocate Brokerage, we make sure our customers understand their risk factors and take steps to ensure that their interests are protected. Making sure that those who employ household help secure the coverage they need is part of what we do. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at 914-723-7100.