United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
W. Grimm, United States District Judge.
Marina Portillo claims that she worked for Intipuqueno
Restaurant and its owner-operator Telbis Elizabeth Garcia
(together, "Intipuqueno)) for more than a year, but was
not paid for the overtime hours she regularly worked, did not
receive any compensation other than tips, and was not paid
"in full at least twice each month." Compl., ECF
NO.1. According to Portillo, her employment ended when she
was fired in retaliation for an epileptic seizure that she
had while at work. Id. ¶¶ 51-56.
Thereafter, she filed suit against Intipuqueno on December
22, 205,, bringing claims of discrimination in violation of
federal, state, and local law, as well as claims of
violations of federal and state wage payment
August 21, 2018, the parties jointly moved for court approval
of the settlement agreement they have executed. Jt. Mot.
& Mem., ECF Nos. 60, 60-1. I find the net settlement
amount of $78, 000, comprised of $16, 262.20 in wages, $3,
825.00 in compensatory damages, and $57, 912.40 in
attorneys' fees, to be fair and reasonable in light of
the facts of this case.
worked as a server at Intipuqueno in Silver Spring, Maryland
from January 2013 to June 29, 2014. Compl. ¶ 14.
Portillo alleges that she worked 62 hours per week for 70
weeks in a 78-week period and did not work during the other 8
weeks. PL's Disclosure of Damages 2, ECF No.
She claims that she allegedly was discharged for having
suffered an epileptic seizure at work. Compl. ¶ 56. For
the entirety of the 78 weeks that she was employed, Portillo
alleges that she never received a paycheck from Defendant and
that her sole compensation was the tips she received from
customers. Id. ¶ 40-41.
Settlement Agreement "release[s] and forever
discharge[s] the Employers [Intipuqueno Restaurant and Ms.
Garcia] ... of and from the Lawsuit and any and all actions
with respect to Employee's tenure of employment at
Intipuqueno Restaurant, at any time on or before the
Effective Date." Agr. ¶ 5(a), ECF No. 60-2. The
$78, 000 settlement is comprised of $16, 262.60 in wages, $3,
825.00 in compensatory damages for Counts 1-3, and $57,
912.40 in attorneys' fees. Id.¶2.
FLSA Settlement Generally
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, 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.'" 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 (1Ith Cir. 1982)).
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. NT!, 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. 08-13102
2009 WL 3094955, at *10 (E.D. Va. Sept. 28, 2009); Lane
v. Ko-Me, LLC, No. DKC-10-2261, 2011 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
Bona Fide Dispute
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 Joint Motion
and Memorandum makes clear that several issues are in
bona fide dispute. Most importantly, the parties
disagree about the number of hours Plaintiff worked per week,
the number of total weeks that she worked, and the wage rate
at which Plaintiff should be compensated. Jt. Mem. 3-4.
Fairness & ...