United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR SETTLEMENT APPROVAL
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. The parties now renew a request
for settlement approval after this Court expressed concerns
with their initial agreement and the parties subsequently
agreed to an addendum that modified several terms.
See Defs. Renewed Mot. for Approval of Settlement
(“Def. Mot.”), ECF No. 28.; see also
Ruling on Parties' Joint Motion for Settlement Approval
(“November Ruling”), ECF no. 27 (denying approval
of initial settlement agreement); Addendum to Settlement
Agreement in Support of the Joint Mot. for Approval of
Settlement Agreement and Dismissal With Prejudice
(“Addendum”), ECF No. 51.
reasons stated below, the joint motion is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Russell is a Connecticut resident. Compl. ¶ 2. Broder
& Orland, LLC, a law firm, is located in Westport,
Connecticut, and Carole Topol Orland is a lawyer and founding
member of the firm. Id. ¶¶ 3-4.
Russell alleges she was hired by Broder & Orland, first
as a temporary receptionist and then as an assistant to
Attorney Topol Orland, Compl. ¶ 7, and was paid as a
salaried employee. Id. ¶ 9. She allegedly
routinely worked forty-eight hours or more per week,
regularly working from 8:30 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. and through
lunch. Id. ¶¶ 12-14.
maintains that Attorney Topol Orland knew Ms. Russell
regularly worked and answered phone calls beyond her allotted
hours. Id. ¶¶ 14, 16. She also claims to
have received e-mails from the firm after her regular work
hours, requiring her to respond even if she was at home.
Id. ¶ 17. She allegedly did not receive
compensation for any of this extra work, and received an
annual salary, at the time of her termination, of $55, 000.
Id. ¶¶ 9, 22.
& Orland ended Ms. Russell's employment on November
4, 2016. Ms. Russell allegedly was told that “the firm
had grown and their needs had changed.” Id.
¶ 21. She alleges that, because of the way in which the
firm's benefit plan was structured, “[t]erminating
Russell allowed Broder to increase its senior partners'
contributions into the Defined-Benefit plan without having to
pay Russell the same benefits.” Id. ¶ 22.
24, 2017, Ms. Russell filed the Complaint in this lawsuit.
Count One alleges that the Defendants violated 29 U.S.C.
§ 207 “by employing Russell for a workweek longer
than forty hours without compensating Russell for her
employment in excess of forty hours at a rate not less than
one and one-half times the regular rate at which Russell was
employed, and further did not pay Russell for all hours
worked.” Compl. at 4. Counts Two and Three allege
violations of 29 U.S.C. § 1140. Compl. at 5. Counts Four
and Five allege violations of Connecticut wage and hour laws.
Id. at 5-6.
a settlement conference, the parties settled and the Court
closed the case. See Minute Entry, ECF No. 16; Order
Dismissing Case, ECF No. 17. The parties then filed a joint
motion for settlement approval, and Ms. Russell filed a
notice of voluntary dismissal of Counts Two and Three.
See Joint Mot. for Approval of Settlement, ECF No.
19; Pl. Notice of Voluntary Dismissal, ECF No. 20.
settlement required Defendants to pay $30, 000 to Kathleen
Russell and an additional $5, 000 to her attorney, for a
total settlement of $35, 000. See Settlement
Agreement at 1, ECF No. 26. The parties agreed that the
agreement should not “be deemed or construed at any
time for any purpose as an admission by either party of any
liability or unlawful conduct of any kind.”
Id. at 4. The agreement also included an integration
clause. Id. at 5.
exchange, “Russell . . . knowingly and voluntarily
releases and forever discharges, to the full extent permitted
by law, Broder & Orland” from a broad variety of
claims. Id. at 2. These claims included:
[A]ny alleged violation of FLSA, REZA, Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, the Older Workers Benefits Protection Act,
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and. Medical Leave
Act; Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, any other
federal, state or local civil or human rights law or any
other local, state or federal law, regulation or ordinance;
any public policy, contract, tort, or common law; any
allegation for costs, fees, or other expenses including
attorneys' fees any other federal, state or local civil
or human rights law or any other local, state or federal law,
regulation or ordinance; any public policy, contract, tort,
or common law; or any allegation for costs, fees, or other
expenses including ...