United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
MIRANDO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon review of the parties'
Amended Joint Motion to Approve Settlement and Dismiss Case
with Prejudice (Doc. 20) filed on October 20, 2017. The
parties provided for the Court's review a copy of the
Settlement Agreement and General Release. Doc. 20-1. The
parties request that the Court approve the parties'
settlement of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) claim, and dismiss the case with
prejudice. Doc. 20. For the reasons set forth herein, the
Court recommends that the settlement be
APPROVED and the case be dismissed with
approve the settlement, the Court must determine whether it
is a “fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide
dispute” of the claims raised pursuant to the FLSA.
Lynn's Food Store, Inc. v. United States, 679
F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th Cir. 1982). There are two ways for a
claim under the FLSA to be settled or compromised.
Id. at 1352-53. The first is under 29 U.S.C. §
216(c), providing for the Secretary of Labor to supervise the
payments of unpaid wages owed to employees. Id. at
1353. The second is under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) when an
action is brought by employees against their employer to
recover back wages. Id. When the employees file
suit, the proposed settlement must be presented to the
district court for the district court to review and determine
that the settlement is fair and reasonable. Id. at
Eleventh Circuit has found settlements to be permissible when
the lawsuit is brought by employees under the FLSA for back
wages because the lawsuit 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 overreaching. 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; we allow the district court to approve
the settlement in order to promote the policy of encouraging
settlement of litigation.
Id. at 1354. “Short of a bench trial, the
Court is generally not in as good a position as the parties
to determine the reasonableness of an FLSA settlement. . . .
If the parties are represented by competent counsel in an
adversary context, the settlement they reach will, almost by
definition, be reasonable.” Bonetti v. Embarq Mgmt.
Co., 715 F.Supp.2d 1222, 1227 (M.D. Fla. 2009).
Nevertheless, the Court must scrutinize the settlement to
determine whether it is a “fair and reasonable
resolution of a bona fide dispute.” Lynn's Food
Store, Inc., 679 F.2d at 1355.
Plaintiff Priscilla Clarke filed a Verified Complaint and
Demand for Jury Trial (“Complaint”) against
Defendant Alta Resources Corporation alleging that Defendant
did not compensate her with overtime pay in violation of the
FLSA. Doc. 1 at 3-5. According to the Complaint, Defendant is
a foreign for-profit corporation engaged in business in Lee
County, Florida. Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff is a
resident of Lee County, Florida, who was employed by
Defendant as a non-exempt hourly Quality
Auditor during the relevant time period between
November 2015 and September 12, 2016. Id.
¶¶ 3, 13, 16, 19. Plaintiff alleges that although
she worked in excess of forty hours within a workweek, she
never received appropriate compensation for her overtime.
Id. ¶ 19(a)-(b). Plaintiff further alleges that
Defendant did not maintain proper time records as required by
the FLSA. Id. ¶ 19(c).
proposed settlement agreement, Defendants agree to pay
Plaintiff a settlement amount totaling six thousand dollars
($6, 000.00) in consideration of Plaintiff's underlying
claims for unpaid wages and liquidated damages and her
general release of claims. Doc. 20-1 ¶ 2. The settlement
provides that Plaintiff will receive a payment of one
thousand, two hundred fifty dollars ($1, 250.00) for wages,
and a second payment of one thousand, seven hundred fifty
dollars ($1, 750.00) consisting of one thousand, two hundred
fifty dollars ($1, 250.00) for liquidated damages, and five
hundred dollars ($500.00) for Plaintiff's general
release. Id. In addition to the separate monetary
consideration, Defendant is providing Plaintiff with a
reciprocal general release and a neutral employment
reference. Id. ¶ 4, 7. Defendant also will pay
Plaintiff's counsel three thousand dollars ($3, 000.00)
as reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Id.
parties state that they reached the settlement after
analyzing their respective claims and defenses and reviewing
time, payroll, and building entry and exit logs, as well as
interviewing witnesses. Doc. 20 at 3. Each party was
independently represented by counsel with extensive
experience in litigating claims under the FLSA. Id.
at 5. Plaintiff represents that the negotiated amount of
settlement funds to be paid to her is reasonable in light of
the uncertainty of Plaintiff's ability to prove her claim
and the complexity, expense, and length of litigation should
she proceed. Id. at 4.
on the Court's review of the settlement agreement, the
parties' representations and the policy in this circuit
of promoting settlement of litigation, the proposed
settlement appears to be a fair and reasonable compromise of
the dispute.Other courts in this district have approved
similar settlements for a compromised amount in light of the
stipulation of the parties, strength of the defenses and the
expense and length of continued litigation, as the parties
have recognized here. See e.g., Diaz v. Mattress
One, Inc., No. 6:10-CV-1302-ORL-22, 2011 WL 3167248, at
*2 (M.D. Fla. July 15, 2011), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 6:10-CV-1302- ORL-22, 2011 WL 3166211 (M.D. Fla.
July 27, 2011); see also Dorismond v. Wyndham Vacation
Ownership, Inc., 2014 WL 2861483 (M.D. Fla. June 24,
2014); Helms v. Central Florida Regional Hospital,
2006 WL 3858491 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 26, 2006).
Court noted in its Order of October 20th, 2017 (Doc. 19), the
proposed settlement agreement contains a mutual general
release of claims. Doc. 20-1 ¶ 4. In FLSA cases, general
releases typically are disfavored because “a pervasive
release in an FLSA settlement confers an uncompensated,
unevaluated, and unfair benefit on the employer.”
Moreno v. Regions Bank, 729 F.Supp.2d 1346, 1352
(M.D. Fla. 2010) (holding that the proposed FLSA settlement
agreement was unfair and precludes evaluation of the
compromise because of the pervasive and unbounded scope of
the release). However, this Court as well as other courts
within this district have approved general releases in FLSA
cases when the plaintiff receives compensation that is
separate and apart from the benefits to which plaintiff is
entitled under the FLSA. See, e.g., Davis v. JP
Sports Collectibles Inc., No. 2:16-cv-154-FtM-CM, 2016
WL 7474571, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 29, 2016) (approving the
settlement agreement with mutual general releases because the
plaintiffs received independent consideration for their
individual general releases); Weldon v. Backwoods
Steakhouse, Inc., 6:14-cv-79-Orl-37TBS, 2014 WL 4385593,
at *4 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 4, 2014); Buntin v. Square Foot
Management Company, LLC, 6:14-cv-1394-Orl-37GJK, 2015 WL
3407866, at *2 (M.D. Fla. May 27, 2015); Raynon v.
RHA/Fern Park MR., Inc., 6:14-cv-1112-Orl-37TBS, 2014 WL
5454395, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 27, 2014).
Buntin, the court approved a settlement agreement
that contained a general release because it was supported by
independent consideration apart from that owed to him under
the FLSA, specifically a mutual general release and a
specific neutral reference by defendant. Buntin,
2015 WL 3407866, at *3. Other courts in this district also
have found mutual general releases to confer a benefit on a
plaintiff, and thus acceptable. See, e.g.,
Capers v. Noah's Ark Repair Serv., Inc., No.
6:11-cv-457-ORL-28TB, 2013 WL 3153974, at *3 (M.D. Fla. June
19, 2013) (approving agreement as fair and reasonable where
containing a mutual general release, finding that “[it]
also confer[s] a benefit upon Plaintiff.”); Vergara
v. Delicias Bakery & Rest., Inc., No.
6:12-cv-150-Orl-36KRS, 2012 WL 2191299, at *2-3 (M.D. Fla.
May 31, 2012), report and recommendation adopted, 2012 WL
2191492 (M.D. Fla. Jun.14, 2012) (approving settlement
agreement where general release by employee was exchanged for
a mutual release by employer).
the parties assert that the mutual general release was
independently important to Plaintiff in light of
Defendant's contention that she was paid for hours not
worked. Doc. 20 ¶ 5. Furthermore, Defendants agree to
pay an additional $500.00 as consideration for
Plaintiff's general release of claims. Doc. 20-1 ¶
2(b). Because this compensation and Defendant's
reciprocal general release constitute sufficient independent
consideration for Plaintiff's general release, it appears
to the Court that the parties' mutual general release of
claims does not render the agreement unfair or unreasonable.
Doc. 20-1 ¶¶ 2, 4; see Buntin, 2015 WL
3407866, at *3 (approving a settlement agreement with a
general release because it was supported by a mutual general
release and a specific neutral reference by the defendant).
Court further notes that the proposed settlement agreement
contains a non-disparagement clause and waiver of future
employment. Doc. 20-1 ¶¶ 6-7. The non-disparagement
clause stipulates that Plaintiff will not make any
disparaging or negative remarks concerning any of the
released parties, and that in return, Defendant will provide
a neutral employment reference for Plaintiff. Id.
¶ 7. The non-disparagement clause specifically states
that the Settlement Agreement is not confidential, and
nothing prevents Plaintiff from disclosing the terms of the
settlement agreement to any other person or entity.
Id. The waiver of future employment states merely
that Plaintiff will not apply for employment or seek