United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Adela Guardado ("Plaintiff) has brought suit against
Unicorn Cleaning Company ("Unicorn") and Rosa
Ivette Clabaugh (formerly Vasquez) ("Defendants"),
alleging violations of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
("MWHL"), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl.
§§ 3-401 et seq., the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL"), Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-501 et seq.,
and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29
U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. Plaintiff and
Defendants have now reached a settlement and ask for the
Court to approve the settlement and dismiss with prejudice
all claims in the Complaint. For the reasons that follow, the
Court GRANTS the Joint Motion for Settlement
and Dismissal Without Prejudice, ECF No. 10, and
DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE all counts of the
Complaint, ECF No. 1, as to both Defendants.
and Procedural Background
is a commercial and residential cleaning company owned by
Clabaugh that operates and does business in Maryland. ECF No.
1 ¶¶ 4, 5. Plaintiff worked as a cleaning laborer
for Unicorn from approximately October 21, 2013 through
September 15, 2016. ECF No. 1¶17.
filed a Complaint on December 13, 2016, alleging that during
the time of her employment, she was paid at an hourly rate of
$6.00 and $7.00, rates below Maryland's minimum wage of
$7.25 as of January 1, 2013. Id. ¶ 18. She also
alleges that she worked approximately fifty (50) hours per
week and was never compensated at the required overtime rate
for those hours worked over forty hours. Id. ¶
19. On August 7, 2017, before Defendants filed responsive
pleadings, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Approval of
Settlement and Dismissal with Prejudice, ECF No. 10.
enacted the FLSA to protect workers from the poor wages and
long hours that may result from the significant inequalities
in bargaining power between employers and employees. To that
end, the statute's provisions are mandatory and generally
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 employer's
overreaching.'" Soman 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)).
reviewing FLSA settlements for approval, "district
courts in this circuit typically employ the considerations
set forth by the Eleventh Circuit in Lynn's Food
Stores." Beam v. Dillon's Bus Serv., Inc., No.
DKC 14-3838, 2015 WL 4065036, at *3 (D. Md. July 1, 2015)
(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." Beam, 2015 WL 4065036, at *3
(quoting Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. By &
Through U.S. Dep't of Labor, Employment Standards Admin.,
Wage & Hour Div., 679 F.2d 1350, 1355 (11th Cir.
1982)). The court considers (1) whether there are FLSA issues
actually in dispute, (2) the fairness and reasonableness of
the settlement, and (3) the reasonableness of the
attorneys' fees, if included in the agreement.
deciding whether a bona fide dispute exists as to a
defendant's liability under the FLSA, the court examines
the pleadings in the case, along with the representations and
recitals in the proposed settlement agreement. See
Lomascolo v. Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., et ah, No.
L08CV1310 (AJT/JFA), 2009 WL 3094955 at *16-17 (E.D. Va.
Sept. 28, 2009).
case, the parties dispute the individual liability of
Defendant Clabaugh. Plaintiff argues that Clabaugh can be
held liable because she had economic control over the
employment relationship. Ford v. Karpathoes, Inc.,
No. ELH-14-00824, 2014 WL 6621997 at *3 (D. Md. Nov. 20,
2014) ("Generally, where an individual exercises control
over the nature and structure of the employment relationship,
or economic control over the relationship, that individual is
an employer within the meaning of the FLSA and is subject to
liability.") (quotation and citation omitted).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Clabaugh had such
control because she owned Unicorn, had the power to hire,