Harris v. Griffith et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 4/16/2013. (KAM, )
2013 Apr-16 PM 01:55
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
BILLY R. HARRIS,
CHIP GRIFFITH AND DIANE
GRIFFITH, individually and doing
business as Hillcrest Landscape & Lawn
CASE NO. 7:12-CV-3747-SLB
The case is presently pending before the court on the parties’ Joint Motion for
Approval of Settlement. (Doc. 8.) 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 parties have not submitted their settlement agreement to the court. However, they
submitted the terms of the settlement as follows:
Defendants shall pay Billy R. Harris aggregate gross settlement
proceeds of $2,000.00 by paying to him one $1,000.00 payment, denominated
as wages, less the deduction of any taxes and any amounts required by law to
be withheld from that check, and a second payment of $1,000.00 as liquidated
damages from which there will be no amounts withheld.
Defendants shall pay Plaintiff’s counsel, for attorney’s fees and
costs this action, the collective total amount of $1,000.00;
Plaintiff shall acknowledge [his] individual consent to this
settlement and shall waive and release all claims against Defendants in writing;
Neither the payments herein nor the Order Approving Settlement
shall constitute or shall heretofore be represented as an admission, finding,
conclusion or judgment of an FLSA violation on behalf of the Defendants or
liability to the Plaintiffs, or any other violation or liability whatsoever,
including liability for liquidated damages, as a primary motivation for
Defendants agreement to a resolution of this matter was to avoid the
uncertainty and additional expense of continued litigation . . . .
(Doc. 8 ¶ 3.) The court notes that defendants have a Motion to Dismiss pending, which
argues that Plaintiff’s Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to state a claim for relief
pursuant to the FLSA. (See generally doc. 4.)
The court finds that plaintiff’s claims represent a bona fide dispute over FLSA
provisions, namely FLSA coverage and the amount of his backpay, if any. Based on the
parties’ representations, the court finds that the parties’ settlement is a fair and reasonable
resolution of these bona fide disputes.
An Order granting the parties’ Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement, (doc. 8), will
be entered contemporaneously with this Memorandum Opinion.
DONE, this 16th day of April, 2013.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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