United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
opinion concerns a proposed FLSA settlement. Plaintiff Carlos
Padilla brought this lawsuit against defendants Redmont
Properties, LLC; Redmont Properties E.G., LLC; Redmont
Properties of Homewood, LLC; RM Management, LLC; and Fred G.
Nunnelly, III on behalf of himself and other similarly
situated individuals. (Doc. 1). Mr. Padilla originally
asserted a claim for violation of the Fair Labor Standards
Act's overtime provision, 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1),
against the defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Mr. Padilla later
amended his complaint to add claims for race discrimination
under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and to add two
similarly situated individuals, Jorge Ortiz and Demetrio
Padilla, as plaintiffs. (Doc. 28-3).
parties have agreed to settle the plaintiffs' FLSA claims
for unpaid overtime wages, and they have asked the Court to
review the terms of the proposed settlement. (Doc. 32). The
three settlement agreements are identical in their terms,
except for the specific sums the defendants will pay to each
plaintiff. For the reasons stated below, the Court approves
the parties' proposed FLSA settlements because they are
fair and reasonable compromises of a bona fide dispute.
plaintiffs are residents of Birmingham who performed
maintenance and repair work on residential properties owned
and managed by the defendants in Jefferson County, Alabama.
(Doc. 28-3, ¶¶ 12, 18-19; Doc. 11, ¶ 16).
Carlos Padilla has worked on the defendants' properties
since 2001. (Doc. 32-1, p. 8, ¶ 2). Jorge Ortiz and
Demetrio Padilla have worked on the defendants'
properties since 2002. (Doc. 32-2, p. 8, ¶ 2; Doc. 32-3,
p. 8, ¶ 2). The plaintiffs allege that they regularly
spent more than 40 hours each week painting and performing
maintenance for the defendants. (Doc. 28-3, ¶¶ 12,
20). Carlos Padilla contends that, during the years 2016 and
2017, he often worked more than double the standard
forty-hour workweek maintaining the defendants'
properties. (Doc. 28-3, ¶¶ 28-29). Although the
defendants were aware that the plaintiffs routinely worked
more than 40 hours per week, the defendants did not
compensate the plaintiffs at the required time-and-a-half
rate for overtime hours. (Doc. 28-3, ¶¶ 22-25).
defendants argue that they have no obligation to the
plaintiffs under the FLSA because the plaintiffs are
independent contractors who are exempt from the FLSA's
wage requirements. (Doc. 11, ¶¶ 17, 19; Doc. 32,
¶ 4). The defendants also contest the numbers of hours
that the plaintiffs contend they worked during 2016 and 2017.
(Doc. 32, ¶ 4).
the assistance of a mediator, the parties negotiated a
settlement of the plaintiffs' FLSA claims. (Doc. 32,
¶ 2). In exchange for dismissal of the FSLA claims with
prejudice, the defendants have agreed to settle each FLSA
claim as follows: Carlos Padilla will receive $65, 660.78
(Doc. 32-1, p. 1); Jorge Ortiz will receive $60, 911.85 (Doc.
32-2, p. 1); and Demetrio Padilla will receive $9, 956.59
(Doc. 32-3, p. 1). Additionally, defendants will pay a total
attorney's fee of $8, 000.00. (Doc. 32-1, p. 2; Doc.
32-2, p. 2; Doc. 32-3, p. 2).
record, the Court considers the parties' motion to
approve the proposed settlement of the plaintiff' FLSA
enacted the FLSA in 1938 with the goal of [protecting] all
covered workers from substandard wages and oppressive working
hours.' Among other requirements, the FLSA obligates
employers to compensate employees for hours in excess of 40
per week at a rate of 1½ times the employees'
regular wages.” Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham
Corp., 567 U.S. 142, 147 (2012) (quoting Barrentine
v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 739
(1981)); see also 29 U.S.C. §§ 202,
207(a). Congress designed the FLSA “to ensure that
each employee covered by the Act would receive
'[a] fair day's pay for a fair day's work'
and would be protected from 'the evil of
'overwork' as well as
'underpay.'''' Barrentine, 450
U.S. at 739 (emphasis in original) (quoting Overnight
Motor Trans. Co. v. Missel, 316 U.S. 572, 578 (1942)).
In doing so, Congress sought to protect, “the
public's independent interest in assuring that
employees' wages are fair and thus do not endanger
„the national health and well-being.'''
Stalnaker v. Novar Corp., 293 F.Supp.2d 1260, 1264
(M.D. Ala. 2003) (quoting Brooklyn Savs. Bank v.
O'Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706 (1945)).
employee proves that her employer violated the FLSA, the
employer must remit to the employee all unpaid wages or
compensation, liquidated damages in an amount equal to the
unpaid wages, a reasonable attorney's fee, and costs. 29
U.S.C. § 216(b). “FLSA provisions are mandatory;
the 'provisions are not subject to negotiation or
bargaining between employer and employee.'''
Silva v. Miller, 307 Fed.Appx. 349, 351 (11th Cir.
2009) (quoting Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. ex.
rel. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352 (11th
Cir. 1982)); see also Brooklyn, 324 U.S. at
707. “Any amount due that is not in dispute must be
paid unequivocally; employers may not extract valuable
concessions in return for payment that is indisputably owed
under the FLSA.” Hogan v. Allstate Beverage Co.,
Inc., 821 F.Supp.2d 1274, 1282 (M.D. Ala. 2011).
parties may settle an FLSA claim for unpaid wages only if
there is a bona fide dispute relating to a material issue
concerning the claim. To compromise a claim for unpaid wages,
the parties must “present to the district court a
proposed settlement, [and] the district court may enter a
stipulated judgment after scrutinizing the settlement for
fairness.” Lynn's Food, 679 F.2d at 1352;
see also Hogan, 821 F.Supp.2d at 1281-82.
“[T]he parties requesting review of an FLSA compromise
must provide enough information for the court to examine the
bona fides of the dispute.” Dees v. Hydradry,
Inc., 706 F.Supp.2d 1227, 1241 (M.D. Fla. 2010). The
information that the parties provide should enable the Court
“to ensure that employees have received all uncontested
wages due and that they have received a fair deal regarding
any additional amount that remains in controversy.”
Hogan, 821 F.Supp.2d at 1282. “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, ” then a court may
approve the settlement. Lynn's Food, 679 F.2d at
1354; see also Silva, 307 Fed.Appx. at 351
(emphasizing that a proposed settlement must be fair and
Court finds that there is a bona fide dispute in this matter
that supports the parties' proposed FLSA settlement. The
plaintiffs maintain that the defendants failed to compensate
them as required by the FLSA. (Doc. 28-3, p. 4). The
defendants contend that they had no obligation to the
plaintiffs under the FLSA because the plaintiffs were
independent contractors, not employees. (Doc. 24, ¶ 19).
This bona fide dispute supports the parties' proposed
Court finds that the method used to calculate the
plaintiffs' disputed wages is fair and reasonable. The
settlement proceeds of $65, 660.78 for Carlos Padilla, $60,
911.85 for Jorge Ortiz, and $9, 956.69 for Demetrio Padilla
represent a fair and reasonable compromise based on the
existing evidence regarding unpaid wages. (Doc. 32-1, p. 1;
Doc. 32-2, p. 1; Doc. 32-3, p.1). The plaintiffs, in signed
declarations, state that they reviewed their existing time
records with the assistance of plaintiff s counsel before
agreeing to these settlements. (Doc. 32-1, p. 8, ¶ 5;
Doc. 32-2, p. 8, ¶ 6; Doc. 32-3, p. 8, ¶ 6). Based
on a review of their time records, the plaintiffs stipulate
that the sums to be paid under the settlement agreements
represent “100% of their claimed and disputed ...