A Massachusetts woman alleges in a proposed class action lawsuit that au pair company Cultural Care, Inc. double-bills host families and au pairs for travel costs.
According to the lawsuit, Cultural Care operates a program that connects host families in the United States with an au pair, which the defendant defines on its website as “a young adult from overseas who lives with your family on a legal visa for up to two years to provide childcare in exchange for room and board and an opportunity to become part of an American family.”
The case explains that as part of the program, the host family agrees to provide the au pair with suitable accommodations in their home, up to 45 hours of work per week, a weekly stipend, time off, and enrollment in and transportation to a post-secondary institution, among other requirements. Included in the host family’s agreement, the suit says, is a provision that requires the host family to pay for both the au pair’s “domestic transportation” from the defendant’s New York training school to the family’s home and a “program fee.”
According to a description on the defendant’s website, the program fee allegedly includes “round-trip international airfare,” as well as several other expenses. On an FAQ page, the defendant again clearly states that the program fee is intended to cover “international airfare,” the case says.
“A reasonable person would understand these descriptions to mean that the host family is paying for the au pair’s plane ticket so the au pair can travel to the United States to work as the host family’s au pair,” the complaint argues.
However, each au pair is also bound by a separate agreement with the defendant, the case explains, that requires him or her to pay a “program fee.” The au pair’s program fee also purports to include “round-trip airfare” and domestic travel costs, the lawsuit alleges.
Therefore, the suit charges, the defendant’s agreements with host families require proposed class members to pay for costs that are already paid by the au pairs.
“Without informing Plaintiff or the Class members, Defendant collected the money for Plaintiff’s and Class members’ au pairs’ Travel Costs twice, from two separate sources,” the complaint states. “Defendant’s improper and undisclosed double billing means the money Plaintiff and Class members paid Defendant for the Travel Costs was redundant and duplicative.”
The lawsuit looks to cover a proposed class of host families who contracted with the defendant to participate in Cultural Care’s au pair program and paid a program fee that included the cost of the au pair’s round-trip international airfare, a domestic transportation fee, or both.