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Massachusetts au pair agency reaches settlement to rebate host families

An au pair agency based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will offer $4.4 million in refunds to Massachusetts host families as part of a settlement reached on Feb. 7 with state Attorney General Maura T. Healey’s office.

Cultural Care Au Pair will offer the families refunds totaling $150 to $177 per week, from Dec. 2, 2019, to cover some costs of paying minimum wage and overtime to their au pairs, Healey’s office said.

On Dec. 2, 2019, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a suit Cultural Care filed against Healey, which argued that federal law relating to au pairs preempts the state’s wage and hour laws. The court found that Massachusetts wage, overtime and Domestic Workers Bill of Rights laws apply to au pairs.

Cultural Care maintains that the state laws are preempted and plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review its case, the settlement said.

Healey, according to the settlement, received “more than one hundred calls from host families after December 2, 2019.” Many of the families “complained that they were misled by their au pair agencies, including Cultural Care, into believing that they could obtain up to 45 hours of child care per week in exchange for payment of a stipend of $195.75 per week.”

Cultural Care agreed to notify future potential host families in Massachusetts of their obligations under the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and other state laws. The agency is also allowed to disclose its position on the disputed Massachusetts laws and provide updates about any potential developments in the courts.

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