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Redden v. The King's Corner Pub, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 5, 2017

TURHAN REDDEN
v.
THE KING'S CORNER PUB, LLC, et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court is the parties' Joint Motion For An Order Approving Settlement (ECF No. 19). For the reasons that follow, we will grant the Motion and approve the proposed Settlement Agreement.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Turhan Redden filed this action against Defendants, The King's Corner Pub, LLC and The Drake Tavern, LLC, [1] alleging that Defendants failed to pay him and similarly situated employees overtime compensation, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 206(b) and 207(a)(1); 43 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 333.113; Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 260.1, et seq.

         In addition, Plaintiff alleged, on his own behalf, a claim against Defendant King's Corner for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), and claims against both Defendants for violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. (“FMLA”), and for wrongful discharge under Pennsylvania common law. In his individual claims, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed to engage in an interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation for his disability resulting from a hernia injury, terminated him on account of his disability, interfered with his rights under the FMLA, and retaliated against him for attempting to exercise his rights under the ADA, FMLA, and Pennsylvania worker's compensation law.

         Plaintiff and Defendants have settled their dispute and seek approval of the proposed Settlement Agreement resolving all of Redden's individual claims against Defendants.[2]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A FLSA claim may be compromised or settled in two ways: (1) a compromise supervised by the Department of Labor pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(c); or (2) a compromise approved by the district court pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Cuttic v. Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr., 868 F.Supp.2d 464, 466 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (citing Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United States ex rel. U.S. Dep't of Labor, Emp't Standards, Admin., Wage & Hour Div., 679 F.2d 1350, 1354 (11th Cir. 1982)); see also Lyons v. Gerhard's Inc., No. 14-06693, 2015 WL 4378514, at *3 (E.D. Pa. July 16, 2015).[3]

         A district court may approve a FLSA settlement where it represents a “fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute.” Lynn's Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1355; see also, e.g., Nwogwugwu v. Spring Meadows at Lansdale, Inc., No. 16-2663, 2017 WL 2215264, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 18, 2017); In re Chickie's & Pete's Wage and Hour Litig., No. 12-6820, 2014 WL 911718, at*2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 7, 2014). “A proposed settlement agreement resolves a bona fide dispute if it ‘reflects a reasonable compromise over issues, such as FLSA coverage or computation of back wages, that are actually in dispute' and is not a ‘mere waiver of statutory rights brought about by an employer's overreaching.'” McGee v. Ann's Choice, Inc., No. 12-2664, 2014 WL 2514582, at *2 (E.D. Pa. June 4, 2014) (quoting Lynn's Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1354).

         If the court is satisfied that the dispute is bona fide, it then conducts a two-part inquiry. The court first evaluates whether the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable to the employee or employees involved and, if it is, the court then evaluates whether the agreement “furthers or impermissibly frustrates the implementation of [the] FLSA in the workplace.” Id. at *2; see also, e.g., Nwogwugwu, 2017 WL 2215264 at *2; In re Chickie's & Pete's, 2014 WL 911718 at *2.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. The Settlement Is A Fair and Reasonable Resolution Of A Bona Fide Dispute

         As a threshold matter, a bona fide dispute exists regarding Plaintiff's FLSA claims. Plaintiff's Complaint alleged that he worked approximately five to ten hours of overtime per week, that he was not paid the overtime premium for those hours, and that Defendants failed to track, record and report all hours worked by Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶¶ 33-36, ECF No. 1.) Defendants denied these allegations in their Answer, and they maintain this position in the Settlement Agreement. (Answer ¶¶ 33-36, ECF No. 9; Agreement at Recitals & ¶ 4, Joint Mem. Ex. 1, ECF No. 19.) See also Nwogwugwu, 2017 WL 2215264 at *2.

         Turning to the Settlement Agreement terms, we find that they are fair and reasonable to Plaintiff. We note that from the inception of this dispute through the negotiation of the settlement and its submission for Court approval, Plaintiff has been represented by counsel, who investigated the facts and law relevant to Plaintiff's claims and negotiated the resolution memorialized in the Settlement Agreement. Plaintiff's counsel has acknowledged that there would be substantial expenses involved in continuing this litigation, along with significant risks involved ...


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