They worked from Milwaukee to Miami and from Memphis to Mesa to Minneapolis and beyond. Au pairs worked in homes across the U.S., providing affordable child care, as well as cooking, cleaning, shopping and other household chores.
A few days ago, the companies authorized by the State Department to recruit young foreigners to serve as household assistants reached a $65.5 million settlement in a class action wage and hour lawsuit that had demanded back pay for the workers.
The settlement covers the approximately 100,000 au pairs who worked in the U.S. from 2009 to last year. The suit stated that the agencies kept their pay artificially low and then denied the young workers their earned overtime wages.
An attorney for the au pairs said the companies "colluded together to keep their wages well below state and federal minimum wages" and then told the employees that wages could not be negotiated. The truth of the matter, the lawyer said, was that the household assistants "have always had the ability to negotiate their salaries under the existing regulations but they were being given incorrect information."
In addition to the $65.5 million, the settlement includes a provision that requires the au pair sponsoring agencies to provide future workers information about their rights regarding hours and wages under U.S. employment law.
The director of advocacy group Towards Justice, the Colorado group that filed the 2014 lawsuit, said that the resolution of the case "will be perhaps the largest settlement ever on behalf of minimum wage workers."
Workers denied overtime pay have legal options that can include wage and hour litigation. Contact the Milwaukee area law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates to discuss your situation.