United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lamar Lackey (“Lackey” or “Plaintiff) and
Defendant City of Lipscomb (“the City” or
“Defendant”) have jointly requested approval of
their settlement agreement, which represents the resolution
of a disputed matter under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“FLSA”).
(Doc. 20). For the reasons set forth below, the court
approves the parties' settlement.
January 30, 2019, Lackey filed this action, asserting a
single FLSA overtime violation count. (Doc. 1). Specifically,
Lackey, a Lipscomb police officer, asserts the City failed to
pay him overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of
eighty-six per two-week pay period. (Id.). The City
answered the complaint on February 20, 2019, denying the
complaint's allegations in relevant part. (Doc. 7).
October 1, 2019, at the request of the parties, the
undersigned referred this action to United States Magistrate
Judge John E. Ott for mediation. (Doc. 17). Judge Ott
conducted the mediation on October 21, 2019, and the parties
reached a settlement at that mediation session. (See
docs. 19 & 20).
October 25, 2019, the parties filed the instant joint motion
for settlement approval. (Doc. 20). Under the settlement
reached by the parties, Lackey will receive $2, 250.00 for
unpaid overtime wages and $2, 250.00 in liquidated damages.
(Doc. 20 at 9). Lackey's counsel will receive $7, 908.00:
$7, 500.00 for attorney fees and $408.00 for the filing fee
of this action and postage for service of the complaint.
(Id. at 8).
employee proves his 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.
Dep't of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352 (11th Cir.
1982)). “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).
Consequently, 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.
Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States, 679
F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th Cir. 1982), the Eleventh Circuit stated
there is only one context in which compromises of FLSA back
wage claims may be allowed: a stipulated judgment entered by
a court which has determined that a settlement proposed by an
employer and employees, in a suit brought by the employees
under the FLSA, is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona
fide dispute over FLSA provisions. The primary focus of a
court's inquiry in determining whether to approve an FLSA
settlement is to ensure that an employer does not take
advantage of its employees in settling their claim for wages
and other damages due under the statute. Collins v.
Sanderson Farms, Inc., 568 F.Supp. 714, 719 (E.D. La.
the settlement agreement, Lackey states he will receive
“the entire overtime premium wages that he could expect
to recover if he were to prevail on his FLSA claims at
trial.” (Doc. 20 at 7). Lackey will receive an equal
amount in liquidated damages. (Id. at 9). Since
there has been no compromise of Lackey's claims, judicial
approval of the settlement agreement does not appear to be
required under Lynn's Food Stores. Even if it
were, though, the parties' dispute as to the merits of
the case is legitimate. Lackey contends he is due overtime
wages from weeks worked between February 2018 through
September 2018, as set out in an exhibit to the parties'
joint motion. (Id. at 6; doc. 20-1). The City does
not dispute its liability, but it denies it willfully failed
to pay overtime wages and, as such, it states Lackey is not
entitled to liquidated damages. (Doc. 20 at 4, 6). Further,
there is no indication the City took advantage of Lackey in
the settlement; the parties have been represented by counsel
throughout this litigation, and the settlement agreement was
achieved through mediation with a magistrate judge of this
court. Under these circumstances, the undersigned finds that
the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona
Lackey's counsel's fees, the settlement agreement
indicates those fees were negotiated at arm's length and
only discussed after Lackey's claims were resolved. (Doc.
20 at 8-9). “Where the attorney's fee was agreed
upon separately, without regard to the amount paid to the
plaintiff, then ‘unless the settlement does not appear
reasonable on its face or there is reason to believe that the
plaintiffs recovery was adversely affected by the amount of
fees paid to his attorney, the Court will approve the
settlement without separately considering the reasonableness
of the fee to be paid to plaintiffs counsel.'”
Davis v. The Filta Group, Inc., 2010 WL 3958701, *2
(M.D. Fla. Sept. 20, 2010) (quoting Bonetti v. Embarq
Mgmt. Co., 2009 WL 2371407, *5 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 4,
2009)). Therefore, the undersigned finds the attorneys'
fees are reasonable. To the extent judicial approval of the
settlement is required, the settlement is approved.
court finds Plaintiffs FLSA wage claim represents a bona fide
dispute over FLSA provisions and the parties' monetary
settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of that bona
fide dispute. Therefore, the parties' motion for
settlement approval, (doc. 20), is GRANTED,