Labor & Employment

Live-in nannies in au pair program are paid about $4 an hour because of collusion, suit alleges

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A suit filed by a Colorado nonprofit claims that government-selected au pair organizations are colluding to keep wages at $4.35 an hour for young people who come to the United States to serve as nannies in the program.

The suit was filed in Colorado federal court in November by lawyers from the nonprofit Towards Justice and Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the Daily Business Review (sub. req.) reports. The complaint alleges price-fixing and violation of state minimum wage laws.

Au pairs earn $195.75 a week for 45 hours of work, which takes into account a credit for room and board provided by host families, the story says. The au pairs enter the United States on J-1 visas.

The plaintiffs claim room and board should not be deducted from wages.

The live-in nannies “are working a large number of hours,” Boies Schiller lawyer Sigrid McCawley told the Daily Business Review. “They’re not getting paid a federally mandated wage. And because they’re foreigners, they don’t know where to turn. They don’t have a voice, and they’re not aware of their rights.”

The defendants contend the au pair program is a cultural exchange carried out under federal immigration laws, and federal law should prevail. A motion to dismiss is pending.

The Washington Post covered the suit in March and linked to an amended complaint.

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