United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PARTIES' JOINT MOTION FOR SETTLEMENT
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Emrani (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit in state
court, seeking compensation on four separate counts: failure
to pay owed wages, minimum wage, or overtime wages under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); retaliation
under FLSA; nonpayment of wages in violation of
Connecticut's wage and hour laws; and unjust enrichment.
See Complaint, ECF No. 1-2. After Fairfield Family
Care LLC (“Defendant”) removed the case to this
Court, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Settlement
Approval on August 17, 2017. J. Mot. for Settlement Approval,
ECF No. 12.
motion will be DENIED the motion without
prejudice for the reasons stated below.
Factual and Procedural History
worked for Fairfield Family Care as a live-in caregiver.
Compl. ¶¶ 3-5. She alleges that the Defendant
failed to account for all the amount of time she worked, only
paying her a per diem of $100. Id. at ¶
6. She alleges that, after the Department of Labor
had determined her wages had been improperly withheld, the
Defendant prepared false statements regarding the amount of
hours she had worked. Id. at ¶¶ 9-12. She
allegedly refused to sign and she was then terminated. She
filed this lawsuit in state court seeking lost wages,
damages, costs, attorney fees. Defendant then removed to this
Court and filed an answer the Complaint on June 21, 2018. ECF
August 17, 2017, the parties submitted a proposed settlement
agreement that would provide plaintiff with $17, 500
inclusive of attorney fees. J. Mot. for Settlement Approval,
ECF No. 12. The parties represent that they have a
“bona fide disagreement” on several fronts and
they have a “mutual desire to resolve their dispute
without further litigation.” Id. at ¶ 3.
They certify that the agreement:
(a) is fair to all parties; (b) reasonably resolves a bona
fide disagreement between the parties with regard to the
merits of Plaintiff's claims; and (c) demonstrates a good
faith intention by the parties that Plaintiff's claims
for liability and damages be fully and finally resolved and
not re-litigated in whole or in part at any point in the
Id. at ¶ 6. Attached to their motion, the
parties included a copy of the proposed settlement agreement.
Settlement Agreement, ECF No. 12-1, J. Mot. for Settlement
Aproval, Ex. A (“Settlement Agreement”).
Fair Labor Standards Act “is a uniquely protective
statute.” Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House,
Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 206 (2d. Cir. 2015). In light of
these protections, courts in the Second Circuit are required
to approve settlement agreements where the parties seek
dismissal with prejudice of FLSA claims. Id. at 206
(“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.”).
reviewing the proposed Settlement Agreement between the
parties in this case, the Court has two main concerns in
light of Cheeks. First, the agreement contains a
broad release clause. Second, the agreement contains a broad
class waiver. The Court is therefore unable to approve the
proposed settlement without modifications.
within the Second Circuit have examined broad release clauses
with skepticism, especially when the terms go beyond the
types of claims raised an initial complaint. See, e.g.,
Thallapaka v. Sheridan Hotel Assocs. LLC, No. 15CV1321,
2015 WL 5148867, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2015) (“This
Court will not sanction releases in FLSA cases where the
parties purport to waive ‘practically any possible
claim against the defendants, including unknown claims and
claims that have no relationship whatsoever to wage-and-hour
issue.') (quoting Camacho v. Ess-a-Bagel, Inc.,
14 Civ. 2592(LAK), 2015 WL 129723, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 9,
2015)); Olano v. Designs by RJR, Ltd., No. 17CV5703,
2017 WL 4460771, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 6, 2017) (rejecting
“general release of all past, current, or future
claims, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected,
relating to any matter up to the execution date of the
Settlement Agreement, which is not limited to claims related
to this action or Plaintiffs employment with
Settlement Agreement at issue here includes a broad release
section. Settlement Agreement ¶ 4(a). Ms. Emrani
“knowingly and voluntarily release and forever
discharges, to the fullest extent permitted by law”
Defendant and its agents “of any and from all claims,
known or unknown, asserted or unasserted: that she has or may
have against Releasees ...