Light v. Dolgencorp, LLC
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 2/14/14. (djy, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, EASTERN DIVISION
CIVIL ACTION NO.
In this lawsuit brought pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), as amended,
29 U.S.C. § 201 et
seq., the court has before it the parties' joint motion
for approval of settlement agreement.
The court also has
before it the settlement agreement and full and final
general release of all claims signed by all parties.
Plaintiff Allan Light filed his complaint against
defendant Dolgencorp, LLC in federal court, asserting
that the company had failed to pay him overtime owed
under the FLSA.
Jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 29
U.S.C. § 216(b) (FLSA) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal
Later, the parties filed the pending motion for
approval of the settlement agreement.
The court then
held a hearing to discuss this motion and address the
At this hearing, the parties’
Further, Light stated that he was satisfied
agreement, which would prevent Light from disclosing the
terms and existence of the settlement unless required
Since that hearing, the court has reviewed
the settlement agreement and has additional concerns
regarding the provision of the agreement releasing Light
from other legal claims.
When an employee brings a private action under the
FLSA and presents a proposed settlement agreement to the
stipulated judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for
fairness.” Lynn’s FoodStores, Inc. v. United States Dept.
Of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 1982).
reviewed the agreement, the court finds that the parties
have reached an agreement based on a negotiated, goodfaith compromise of a bona-fide dispute over application
of relevant provisions of the FLSA and of back wages owed
under the FLSA based on the assertion that Light was not
properly compensated for overtime worked.
the court finds, with two exceptions, that the agreement
reflects a fair and reasonable resolution of the dispute
between the parties.
The court will only grant approval of the agreement
with two modifications.
First, the court rejects the
prevents Light from disclosing the existence and terms of
the settlement agreement, including the amount of the
See Hogan v. Allstate Beverage Co., Inc.,
821 F. Supp. 2d 1274, 1283-4 (M.D. Ala. 2011) (Thompson,
J.) (finding that confidentiality provisions unequally
benefit the employer and frustrate FLSA goals); Dees v.
Hydradry, Inc., 706 F. Supp. 2d 1227, 1242 (M.D. Fla.
2010) (Merryday, J.); see also Elizabeth Wilkins, Silent
Workers, Disappearing Rights: Confidential Settlements
and the Fair Labor Standards Act, 34 Berkeley J. Emp. &
Lab. L. 109, 113 (2013) (“Congress’s intent to protect
both the public’s interest in a well-functioning economy
and the vulnerable worker subject to unequal bargaining
dynamics militates against secret settlements.”).
Second, the court rejects the agreement’s provision
requiring Light to release all claims against Dolgencorp
beyond the FLSA claims raised in this matter.
provision requires release of claims under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981a,
2000e et al., the Americans with Disabilities Act, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et al., and the Family and
Medical Leave Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C.A. § 2601 et al.,
The court finds this pervasive waiver
overbroad and unfair.
“An employer is not entitled to
use an FLSA claim (a matter arising from the employer’s
failing to comply with the FLSA) to leverage a release
from liability unconnected to the FLSA.” Hogan, 821 F.
Supp. 2d 1284 (quoting Moreno v. Regions Bank, 729 F.
Supp. 2d 1346, 1351 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (Merryday, J.)).
Such provisions take advantage of workers seeking to
recover backpay who may be willing to waive unknown
claims in order to access withheld wages as soon as
With the understanding that the proposed settlement
incorporates the modifications discussed above, the court
will approve the proposed settlement, and an appropriate
judgment will be entered to that effect.
Of course, if
the parties do not agree modifications. they can ask
within the time allowed by law that the judgment be set
DONE, this the 14th day of February, 2014.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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