Bozeman v. The City of Opp, Alabama et al

Filing 42

OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 6/25/2015. (wcl, ) (Main Document 42 replaced on 6/25/2015) (wcl, ). Modified on 6/25/2015 to attach a corrected PDF document of the Opinion to correct a typographical error due to a clerical error (wcl, ).

Download PDF
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION TRACY BOZEMAN, THE OPP and THE ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) CITY OF OPP, ALABAMA, ) UTILITIES DEPARTMENT, ) THE UTILITIES BOARD OF ) CITY OF OPP, ) ) Defendants. ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14cv1042-MHT (WO) OPINION This cause is before the court on the joint motion to approve a settlement between plaintiff Tracy Bozeman and defendants City of Opp, Opp Utilities Department, and the Utilities Board of the City of Opp. The court held an on-the-record conference call on the motion on this date. For the reasons that follow, the settlement will be approved. Plaintiff violated Bozeman several workplace, alleged federal including the that statutes Equal the that Pay defendants regulate Act, 29 the U.S.C. § 206(d). The Equal Pay Act is codified as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219. Bozeman’s Equal Pay Act claim sought damages for unpaid wages. Because the FLSA was enacted to protect workers from the poor wages and long hours that can result from great inequalities employers and in bargaining the employees, power provisions FLSA’s between are mandatory and, except in two narrow circumstances, are generally not modification subject by to contract bargaining, or waiver, settlement. or Brooklyn Savings Bank v. O’Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706 (1945). The first may exception supervise the is that payment the of Secretary back wages of to Labor employees; employees who accept such payments waive their rights to bring suits for liquidated damages, provided the employer pays the back amount in full. 29 U.S.C. § 216(c); Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352–53 (11th 2 Cir.1982); see also Stalnaker v. Novar Corp., 293 F. Supp. 2d 1260, 1262 (M.D. Ala. 2003) (Thompson, J.). The second route to settlement, and the one that is applicable here, occurs when an employee brings a private action for back wages under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), the employee and employer present a proposed settlement to the district court, and the district court reviews the judgment and enters it as “a stipulated judgment.” Lynn’s Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1354-1355 (“Settlements may be permissible in the context of a suit brought by employees under the FLSA for back wages because initiation of the action by the employees provides some assurance of an adversarial context. The employees are likely to be represented by an attorney who can protect their rights under the statute. submit a settlement settlement is more to the likely Thus, when the parties court to for reflect approval, a the reasonable compromise of disputed issues than a mere waiver of statutory rights brought about overreaching.”). 3 by an employer’s In reviewing a settlement of an FLSA private claim, a court must fairness,” id. “scrutiniz[e] at 1353, the and settlement determine that for the settlement is a “fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute over FLSA provisions.” Id. at 1355. “If a settlement in an employee FLSA suit does reflect a reasonable coverage or compromise over computation of issues, back such wages, as FLSA that are actually in dispute[,] ... the district court [may] approve the settlement in order to promote the policy of encouraging settlement of litigation.” Id. at 1354. In this case, there are bona fide disputes over FLSA provisions, namely whether Bozeman and a similarly situated male comparator performed “equal work on jobs the performance of which require[d] equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which [were] performed under similar working conditions,” as is required for recovery under the statute. §§ 206(d)(1), 216. 4 29 U.S.C. After settlement speaking with agreement, Bozeman the court and reviewing finds that the the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of these bona fide disputes and that Bozeman knowingly voluntarily entered into the settlement. receive $ 25,000 from the defendants, and Bozeman will and she will release the defendants from any claims and causes of action that she has or could have against them up to the date of settlement, including claims arising from her employment. Under the terms of her contingency-fee agreement, Bozeman’s counsel will be paid half of her award, that is, $ 12,500, and this amount will cover any costs that Bozeman’s attorneys have incurred in filing and prosecuting this action. Upon consideration of Bozeman’s testimony and the court’s knowledge of the facts and circumstances of this case, the court will approve the settlement. An appropriate judgment will be entered. DONE, this the 25th day of June, 2015. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?