The Au Pair (J-1) Program Gets Another Black Eye

By David North on October 19, 2020

Earlier this month, we wrote about three governmental entities — the U.S. Supreme Court, the Trump White House, and the U.S. State Department — all taking steps to either curtail the size of the au pair (J-1) program or to ensure that the young alien nannies in it are given a raise.

Last week, according to a Law360 article behind a partial pay wall, "a Massachusetts-based au pair company [Cultural Care, Inc.,] is lying to its host families to drive up its own fees and underpay its workers in New York and California, one of the au pairs said Thursday in a proposed class action complaint."

The article continued: "Her complaint says Cultural Care's 'business model depends on the systemic underpayment of au pairs in violation of California and New York law.'"

The worker advocates are utilizing state — not federal — law in an effort to secure economic justice for the au pairs. What the U.S. Supreme Court did, by refusing to hear an appeal, was to permit the State of Massachusetts to grant the young women a substantial wage hike under that state's minimum wage rules.

The au pairs scheme is one of several foreign-worker programs operated directly by the State Department; State, unlike Labor and DHS, has no stateside field structure to supervise these programs.

Although the au pairs are using state laws, they have brought the case in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. The plaintiff, Karen Morales Posada, has worked as an au pair in both New York and California. She, and other members of the proposed class, are represented by David Seligman, executive director of the Denver-based, non-profit law firm, Towards Justice.