United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GRIMM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 28, 206,, Plaintiff Kristan Saint-Preux filed this
action against Defendant Kiddies Kollege Christian Center,
Inc. ("Kiddies Kollege") alleging that Kiddies
Kollege failed to pay her overtime wages in violation of the
Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA",, 29 U.S.C.
99201-219, and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
("MWHL",, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. 99 3-401
to -431. Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF NO.6. In addition, the
Amended Complaint alleges that Kiddies Kolleges' failure
to pay overtime compensation violated the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL",, Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & EmpI. 993-501 to -509. Am. Compl. ¶1.
Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant unlawfully
discriminated against her on the basis of her disability and
failed to engage in the interactive process to accommodate
the same in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 9 12101-22213, and retaliated
against her for pursuing her rights under the federal and
state statutes. Am. Compo ¶¶1-2. On April 25, 2017,
the Parties jointly moved for court approval of a settlement
agreement that they have executed and filed along with a
Memorandum in support of their Motion. Jt. Mot., ECF No. 19;
Jt. Mem., ECF No. 22. I find the net amount Saint-Preux is to
receive to be fair and reasonable in light of the facts of
worked as a teachers' aide at Kiddies Kollege from
roughly October 2014 until her termination on October 3,
2016. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24, 33, 69. Plaintiff alleges
that Kiddies Kollege paid her a normal hourly rate for hours
worked in excess of 40 hours per week. See Id.
¶38. From her hiring, through August 15, 2015,
Saint-Preux was paid at a regular rate of nine dollars
($9.00) per hour. Id. Â¶36. From August 16, 2015 to
her termination, Saint-Preux was paid at a regular rate often
dollars ($10.00) per hour. Id. Â¶37. After
Saint-Preux filed her Complaint on September 28, 206,,
Defendant direct deposited $918.27 into Saint-Preuxs's
bank account, and issued a pay statement for a gross payment
for the same amount for 171 hours of unpaid overtime.
Settlement Agreement "releases Defendant . . . from all
manner of actions . . . that arose out of. . . Plaintiffs
employment and/or the Litigation prior to the date of this
Agreement . . . ." and provides Saint-Preux with $918.27
in liquidated damages pursuant to the FLSA's penalty
provisions. Agreement ¶¶ 1, 5, ECF No. 19-1.
Although Kiddies Kollege denies Saint-Preuxs's
discrimination and retaliation allegations, the proposed
settlement also provides $4, 081.73 for payment of
attorneys' fees and costs associated with the non-FLSA
claims. Jt. Mot. ¶10. Plaintiff is not seeking
attorneys's fees for Plaintiffs overtime claims in this
settlement. Jt. Mot.¶ 11.
enacted the FLSA to protect workers from the poor wages and
long hours that can result from significant inequalities in
bargaining power between employers and employees. To that
end, the statute's provisions are mandatory and generally
are not subject to bargaining, waiver, or modification by
contract or settlement. See Brooklyn Sav. Bank v.
O'Neil, 324 U.S. 697, 706 (1945). Court-approved
settlement is an exception to that rule, "provided that
the settlement reflects a 'reasonable compromise of
disputed issues' rather than 'a mere waiver of
statutory rights brought about by an employers'
overreaching.'" Saman v. LBDP, Inc., No.
DKC-12-1083, 2013 WL 2949047, at *2 (D. Md. June 13, 2013)
(quoting Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States, 679 F.2d 1350, 1354 (11th Cir. 1982)). Although
the Fourth Circuit has not addressed the factors to be
considered in approving FLSA settlements, "district
courts in this circuit typically employ the considerations
set forth by the Eleventh Circuit in Lynn's Food
Stores.” Id. at *3 (citing Hoffman v.
First Student, Inc., No. WDQ-06-1882, 2010 WL 1176641,
at *2 (D. Md. Mar. 23, 2010); Lopez v. NTI, LLC, 748
F.Supp.2d 471, 478 (D. Md. 2010)). The settlement must
"reflect a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona
fide dispute over FLSA provisions"" which
includes findings with regard to (1) whether there are FLSA
issues actually in dispute, (2) the fairness and
reasonableness of the settlement in light of the relevant
factors from Rule 23, and (3) the reasonableness of the
attorneys' fees, if included in the agreement.
Id. (citing Lynn's Food Stores, 679
F.2d at 1355; Lomascolo v. Parsons Brinckerhoff
Inc., No. 08-1310, 2009 WL 3094955, at *10 (E.D. Va.
Sept. 28, 2009); Lane v. Ko-Me, LLC, No.
DKC-10-2261, 2111 WL 3880427, at *2-3 (D. Md. Aug. 31,
2011)). These factors are most likely to be satisfied where
there is an "assurance of an adversarial context"
and the employee is "represented by an attorney who can
protect [his] rights under the statute." Lynn's
Food Stores, 679 F.2d at 1354. Lynn's Food
Stores, only requires "compromises of FLSA back
wage or liquidated damages claims" to be approved by the
District Court in determining whether a settlement is fair
and reasonable, the Court does not need to review
parties' settlements of other FLSA claims that do not
relate to back payor liquidated damages. See Id. at
1355; Galvez v. Americlean Servs. Corp., No.
1:11CV1351 (JCC/TCB), 2012 WL 2522814, at *4 n.4 (E.D. Va.
June 29, 2012) ("The Court need not engage in an
in-depth review of the parties' settlement of [an FLSA]
retaliation claim, provided its terms do not contaminate the
settlement of claims relating to unpaid overtime and unpaid
In deciding whether a bona fide dispute exists as to
a defendant's liability under the FLSA, courts examine
the pleadings in the case, along with the representations and
recitals in the proposed settlement agreement. See
Lomascolo, 2009 WL 3094955, at *16-17. The parties agree
that a bona fide dispute exists as to whether
Plaintiff is entitled to liquidated (i.e., double) damages
under the FLSA in light of Defendant's assertion of good
faith. Jt. Mem. 2. The FLSA permits Plaintiffs to seek
liquidated damages for unpaid overtime wages. See 29
U.S.C. S 216(b). But courts have discretion to decline to
award liquidated damages where an employer demonstrates that
it committed an FLSA violation in good faith. Randolph v.
PowerComm Const, Inc., No. GJH-13-1696, 2014 WL 4981439,
at *3 (D. Md. Oct. 1, 2014.. Thus, a bona fide
dispute exists as to whether Saint-Preux is entitled to any
enhanced damages. Pl's Mem. 2.
Fairness & Reasonableness
evaluating the fairness and reasonableness of this
settlement, I must consider:
(1) the extent of discovery that has taken place; (2) the
stage of the proceeding,, including the complexity, expense
and likely duration of the litigation; (3) the absence of
fraud or collusion in the settlement; (4) the experience of
counsel who have represented the plaintiff; (5) the
opinions of class counsel ...; and (6) the probability of