United States District Court, D. Connecticut
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Russell (“Plaintiff“) filed this lawsuit alleging
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461, and
state law. Compl., ECF No. 1. After negotiations with
Magistrate Judge Garfinkel, the parties reported that they
had reached a settlement agreement and sought court approval
to dismiss the case with prejudice. See Joint Mot.
for Approval of Settlement, ECF No. 19. Additionally, they
have continued to maintain that “it was the intent of
the Parties that this settlement be treated as private and
confidential” and have therefore sought review of the
settlement agreement either in camera or filed under
seal. See Defs. Notice Of Supplemental Authority,
ECF No. 24 (“Defs. Supp. Notice”).
agreements under the FLSA require court approval in the
Second Circuit. See Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake
House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d Cir. 2015)
(“Thus, Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) stipulated dismissals
settling FLSA claims with prejudice require the approval of
the district court or the DOL to take effect.”).
courts in the Second Circuit reviewing settlement agreements
under Cheeks have repeatedly required settlement
agreements to be filed on the public docket, rather than
under seal. See Guaman v. Newtown Colony Diner, Inc,
No. 3:15-cv-00353(SALM), 2015 WL 13310281, at *1 (D. Conn.
Sept. 25, 2015) (“[U]nless the parties can make a
showing that overcomes the presumption of public access to
the settlement agreement, the Court will require the parties
to file the settlement agreement on the public docket for the
Court's consideration”); Olano v. Designs by
RJR, Ltd., No. 17-cv-5703, 2017 WL 4460771, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. Oct. 6, 2017) (collecting cases and noting that
“[t]he overwhelming majority of courts in this Circuit
that have analyzed the propriety of redacting FLSA settlement
amounts or filing FLSA settlement agreements under seal have
disapproved of those requests because a judicially approved
FLSA settlement agreement is a judicial document entitled to
the strong presumption of public access, which requires a
substantial showing to overcome.”) (internal quotations
omitted); accord Ortiz v. Breadroll, LLC, No.
16-cv-7998 (JLC), 2017 WL 2079787, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 15,
2017); Lopez v. 41-06 Bell Blvd. Bakery LLC, No.
15-CV-6953 (SJ)(PK), 2016 WL 6156199, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 3,
2016), report and recommendation adopted No.
15-cv-6953 (SJ) (PK), 2016 WL 6208481 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 21,
2016); Golan v. Deutsche Bank Sec. Inc., No.
15-cv-221 (PAE), 2015 WL 13322121, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 29,
2015); Thallapaka v. Sheridan Hotel Assocs. LLC, No.
15CV1321, 2015 WL 5148867, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2015);
Davitashvili v. Beacon Van Line & Storage, Inc.,
No. 15-cv-5575 CBA JO, 2016 WL 3390410, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. May
23, 2016), report and recommendation adopted No.
15-cv-5575(CBA)(JO), 2016 WL 3455376 (E.D.N.Y. June 17,
maintain that “it was the intent of the Parties that
this settlement be treated as private and confidential”
and that “there is no overriding rationale in this case
for requiring the settlement agreement to be filed to the
public docket.” Defs. Supp. Notice at 2. They therefore
request that the settlement be submitted to the Court for
review either in camera or filed under seal.
Id. The Court disagrees.
is a “strong presumption of public access” that
can only be overcome with a “substantial
showing.” Olano, 2017 WL 4460771, at *2.
See also Bouzzi v. F & J Pine Rest.,
LLC, 841 F.Supp.2d 635, 639 (E.D.N.Y. 2012)
(“Thus, a judicially approved FLSA settlement agreement
should not be filed under seal, except in the very limited
circumstance where parties can make a substantial showing
that their need to seal the agreement outweighs the strong
presumption of public access that attaches to such judicial
documents.”). Courts have rejected arguments similar to
those advanced by Defendants, namely, that confidentiality
was part of the basis of the agreement, or that parties wish
to avoid public scrutiny. Olano, 2017 WL 4460771 at
*2 (rejecting argument that a settlement agreement should be
sealed even though “confidentiality was a material term
of the settlement”); Wolinsky v. Scholastic
Inc., 900 F.Supp.2d 332, 338-39 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
(rejecting argument that the “fear of copycat lawsuits
or embarrassing inquiries suffice to defeat the
presumption” of public access to FLSA settlement
agreements approved by the court).
for the reasons stated above, any settlement agreement
between the parties will have to be filed publicly in order
for the Court to review it. Consistent with this Order, the
parties should proceed in one of two ways:
(1) The parties may file the proposed settlement agreement on
the public docket for Court approval; or,
(2) The parties may file notice with the Court that they
intend to abandon their settlement agreement and continue to
litigate this matter.
parties shall take one of these actions within thirty (30)
days of the date of this Order.
 Defendants rely on out-of-circuit
district court decisions or cases that predate
Cheeks to argue that the settlement should be filed
under seal. See Defs. Supp. Notice at 2. Given the
weight of caselaw ...