United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
parties filed a Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement on
August 2, 2019. (Doc. 25). Plaintiff Edmund Distefano and
Defendant Hampton Golf Inc. jointly request that the Court
approve the terms of their proposed settlement of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims asserted in
this case. The proposed Settlement Agreement is attached as
Exhibit A to the parties' motion. (See Id. at
ECF pp. 7-11). After a careful review of the parties'
submissions and the court file, the Undersigned respectfully
recommends that the presiding United States District Judge
APPROVE the proposed settlement.
approve the settlement of FLSA claims, the Court must
determine whether the settlement is a “fair and
reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute” of the
claims raised pursuant to the FLSA. Lynn's Food
Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th
Cir. 1982); 29 U.S.C. § 216. 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's review and
determination that the settlement is fair and reasonable.
Id. at 1353-54.
Eleventh Circuit has found settlements to be permissible when
employees bring a lawsuit under the FLSA for back wages.
Id. at 1354. The Eleventh Circuit held:
[A 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.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he worked for Defendant as
a non-exempt “first assistant golf professional”
from August 15, 2016 until April 13, 2018. (Doc. 1 at 3).
Plaintiff alleges that during his employment with the
Defendant, Plaintiff was required to perform work for which
he was not compensated. (Id.). Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that rather than pay him lawful overtime,
Defendant required him “to work off-the-clock, usually
requiring him to perform work prior to punching in and
requiring him to punch out at the end of his shift but remain
working.” (Id.). In the Complaint, Plaintiff
estimated that Defendant denied him lawful compensation for
approximately 1, 700 overtime hours in violation of the FLSA.
(Id. at 4). In his answers to the Court's
interrogatories, Plaintiff estimated his total claim for
unpaid wages to be $33, 300.32. (Doc. 15 at ECF pp. 2, 6).
denied Plaintiff's allegations, denied liability, and
asserted several affirmative defenses. (See Doc. 9).
OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
threshold matter, the Undersigned finds that a bona fide
dispute exists between the parties. As the parties'
adequately explain in their joint motion:
Defendant denied any liability and disputed that Plaintiff
had worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek during his
employment or, assuming that the Plaintiff had worked in
excess of 40 hours, Defendant maintained the number of hours
of overtime hours were far less than what was claimed by the
Plaintiff. In this case, the Defendant maintained time
records and the Defendant disputed the Plaintiff's
estimations. While the Plaintiff did often work significant
overtime, it became undisputed that the Defendant paid the
Plaintiff for all hours that appeared on his time card. Th[e]
issue in this case then became whether or not the
Defendant's time records were accurate and, if they were
not, whether the Defendant had actual or constructive
knowledge of the Plaintiff's alleged overtime hours
worked. Finally, the parties disputed whether liquidated
damages were warranted given that the Plaintiff was claiming
hours worked off the clock, and was paid in full for overtime
for hours worked at the Defendant's golf shop, assuming
such hours appeared on his time card. Despite extensive
discovery, the parties agreed that genuine issues of disputed
facts remained, namely whether the Plaintiff was required to
work off the clock and if so, how much uncompensated work was
performed by the Plaintiff. After an extensive review of the
record evidence, including third-party records of
Plaintiff's other employment, the parties agreed that
Plaintiff's overtime estimations in his FLSA
interrogatories were unlikely to be substantiated at trial
and that in actuality they would have been roughly 1/3 of the
amount he initially claimed. This case would have been
expensive to litigate through trial, particularly given the
disputed issues and amount of electronic discovery, all of
which would have been unlikely to definitively resolve this