Cooperman v. Vega
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 7/12/16. (SMH)
2016 Jul-12 PM 04:24
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ALEX ALARCON VEGA d/b/a Alex
CASE NO. 2:14-CV-0779-SLB
This case is presently pending before the court on the parties’ Joint Motion to
Approve Settlement. (Doc. 35.) For the reasons set forth below, the court find the parties’
Motion is due to be granted.
The court notes:
[T]he FLSA’s are mandatory and, except in two narrow circumstances, are
generally not subject to bargaining, waiver, or modification by contract or
settlement. Brooklyn Savings Bank v. O’Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706, 65 S. Ct.
895, 902, 89 L. Ed. 1296 (1945). The first exception is that the Secretary of
Labor may supervise the payment of back wages to 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 Cir.
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 (“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 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. Thus,
when the parties submit a settlement to the court for approval, the settlement
is more likely to reflect a reasonable compromise of disputed issues than a
mere waiver of statutory rights brought about by an employer’s
In reviewing a settlement of an FLSA private claim, a court must
“scrutiniz[e] the settlement for fairness,” id. at 1353, and determine that 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 compromise over issues, such as FLSA coverage or
computation of back wages, 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.
Stalnaker v. Novar Corp., 293 F. Supp. 2d 1260, 1262-63 (M.D. Ala. 2003).
The court finds that plaintiff’s claims represent a bona fide dispute over FLSA
provisions, specifically whether defendant paid plaintiff for all hours worked and whether it
paid him time and half for all hours worked over forty in a given workweek. Based on the
parties’ representations, the court finds that the terms of the parties’ settlement, including the
amount of attorneys’ fees, is a fair and reasonable compromise of these bona fide disputes.
An Order granting the parties’ Joint Motion to Approve Settlement, (doc. 35), will be
entered contemporaneously with this Memorandum Opinion.
DONE this 12th day of July, 2016.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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