United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
B. SMITH United States Magistrate Judge.
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201 et seq. case comes before the Court on
the parties' Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement and
for Dismissal with Prejudice (Doc. 34) and their later filed
Amended Settlement Agreement and Release (Doc. 36-1). Upon
due consideration, I respectfully recommend that the amended
settlement agreement be approved.
March 28, 2017, Plaintiff Jonathan Silva sued his former
employer, Defendant Nona Digital, Inc. and its owners, David
D. Pavlik and Moses Virella, for unpaid overtime and minimum
wages, pursuant to pursuant to the FLSA (Doc. 1). Defendants
provide marketing services for their clients using various
media platforms (Id. at ¶¶ 11-13).
Plaintiff worked for Defendants from July 1, 2016 to
September 16, 2016 as a video and marketing production
assistant (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3). He claims that
he regularly worked in excess of forty hours per workweek
during his tenure at Defendants' company (Id. at
¶ 4). Defendants deny Plaintiff's allegations (Doc.
15; Doc. 29).
February 6, 2018, the parties filed their joint motion for
approval of their settlement agreement (Doc. 34). The next
day, I advised the parties of my concerns related to
paragraphs 3, 6, 9, and 11 of the agreement and gave them 14
days to respond (Doc. 35). The parties provided a joint
response on February 21, 2018 and submitted their amended
settlement agreement for the Court's consideration (Doc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has
explained that an FLSA claim can be settled and resolved in
two ways. First, an employee may settle and waive claims
under the FLSA if the payment of unpaid wages by the employer
to the employee is supervised by the Secretary of Labor. 29
U.S.C. § 216(c); Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v.
U.S., 679 F.2d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 1982). Second, an
employee may settle and waive claims under the FLSA if the
parties present to a district court a proposed settlement
agreement and the district court enters a judgment approving
the settlement. Lynn's Food Stores, Inc., 679
F.2d at 1353. The nature of this lawsuit prompts the district
court's review of the settlement agreements rather than
an examination conducted by the Secretary of Labor. Before
approving a settlement, the district court must scrutinize
the settlement agreement and determine whether it is a
"fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide
dispute" of the FLSA issues. Id. at 1354-55. If
the settlement reflects a reasonable compromise over issues
that are actually in dispute, the Court may approve the
settlement “in order to promote the policy of
encouraging settlement in litigation.” Id. at
parties have addressed all of my concerns with their original
settlement agreement, and I find that their amended agreement
reflects a fair compromise of Plaintiff's FLSA claim.
answers to the Court's interrogatories, Plaintiff
estimated he was owed $2, 703.64 for back-wages based on the
information then available to him (Doc. 25; Doc. 34 at 5).
The parties now agree that Plaintiff was likely on medical
leave for the first week in August of 2016, thus making his
initial estimate erroneous. Plaintiff reduced his claim by
$334.08 which makes his back-wages claim $2, 369.56 (Doc. 34
at 5). Under the parties' settlement agreement Plaintiff
will receive the full $2, 369.56 (Doc. 34-1, ¶ 4). No.
badges of fraud or overreaching are apparent and the parties
are represented by experienced attorneys. Therefore, I see no
reason to question the parties' judgment and find that
the amount of wages to be paid to Plaintiff is fair and
Absence of Liquidated Damages
parties have agreed that Plaintiff shall not be paid
liquidated damages. An employee damaged by a violation of the
FLSA is entitled to unpaid overtime compensation plus an
additional, equal amount, as liquidated damages. 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). The award of liquidated damages in an amount
equal to the amount of back pay is mandatory unless the
employer can show that its actions were taken in good faith,
and that it had reasonable grounds for believing its actions
did not violate the statute. Alvarez Perez v.
Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, Inc., 515 F.3d 1150, 1164
(11th Cir. 2008) (citing Spires v. Ben Hill Cnty.,
980 F.2d 683, 689 (11th Cir. 1993) (“If a court
determines that an employer has established a good faith
defense, it may, ‘in its sound discretion, award no
liquidated damages or award any amount thereof not to exceed
the amount specified in section 216 ....'”));
see also Romero v. Harmony Ret. Living, Inc., No.
6:12-cv-838-Orl-22KRS, 2013 WL 5230662, at *6 (M.D. Fla.
Sept. 16, 2013); Lowe v. Southmark Corp., 998 F.2d
335, 337 (5th Cir. 1993); E.E.O.C. v. White and Son
Enter., 881 F.2d 1006, 1012 (11th Cir. 1989).
constitutes good faith on the part of [an employer] and
whether [the employer] had reasonable grounds for believing
that [its] act or omission was not a violation of the [Act]
are mixed questions of fact and law ... [That test has] both
subjective and objective components.'” Dybach
v. State of Fla. Dept. of Corr., 942 F.2d 1562, 1566
(11th Cir. 1991); see 29 C.F.R. § 790.20.
“To satisfy the subjective ‘good faith'
component, the [employer has the burden of proving] that [it]