Families, agencies upended by au pair ruling
By Katie Lannan, Jan 6, 2020
BOSTON — Lawmakers have been inundated with questions about the ramifications of a recent federal court ruling involving pay for au pairs, according to a Lexington Democrat who filed legislation aimed at providing a grace period to families that may have been blindsided by the decision.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit last month affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit against Attorney General Maura Healey, filed by the Cambridge-based agency Cultural Care Au Pair. The lawsuit argued that federal law relating to au pairs preempts the state’s wage and hour laws, but the court disagreed and found that the Massachusetts wage, overtime and Domestic Workers Bill of Rights laws apply to au pairs.
The au pair program, administered by the State Department, allows young adults from other countries to come to the United States under a special type of visa to continue their studies while living with a host family and providing in-home child care.
There were 1,530 new au pair exchange visitors in Massachusetts in 2018, according to a State Department fact sheet, making the Bay State the fifth most popular destination behind California, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.