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Can General Release Be Part of FLSA Settlement? SD Fla Magistrate Judge Says No.


Florida employment lawyers know that it can be difficult to get FLSA settlements approved in the Middle District of Florida, particularly before at least one judge.  Such scrutiny may be coming to the Southern District too, as, in a decision issued yesterday, Magistrate Judge Hopkins has refused to approve a general release as part of the settlement.

A little review - when an employee sues a company, and the company offers to pay money to settle the case, it is good business to require that the employee enter into a general release as part of the settlement.  The last thing you want as a business owner (or an attorney representing a business) is for the employee to be able to turn around the day after the case settles and sue the company for some claim unrelated to the first lawsuit.  General releases are, and always have been, part of the settlement process for employment cases. 

But, that may not be true for FLSA cases.  Magistrate Judge Hopkins refused to approve the parties' agreed-upon release language "because it is a general and very pervasive release of non-FLSA claims, which has no place in an FLSA settlement."  He also refused to approve "non-disparagement, non-disclosure, and non-incitement of claims provisions, which are contrary to the public remedial purpose of FLSA."  Finally, he required that the plaintiff's attorney submit billing records to justify the fee request, which is not always required.

In short, it may have just gotten tougher to settle FLSA cases in the Southern District.

 
 
 
 
 

The Florida Employer

Reporting employment and immigration law developments that affect Florida employers.

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Michael W. Casey III, Kevin E. Vance, Mark J. Beutler, and Teresa M. Maestrelli practice labor and employment law, with a particular focus on labor and employment litigation, including Title VII, ADEA, ADA, Florida Civil Rights Act, and whistleblower claims, as well as non-compete litigation, in state and federal trial and appellate courts in Florida and throughout the United States. They also represent employers before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the National Mediation Board (NMB), the U.S. Department of Labor, including the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and various state and local agencies, as well as in arbitrations, collective-bargaining negotiations and union representation elections. Hector A. Chichoni practices in the area of US and global immigration law. He chairs Duane Morris's Florida Immigration Practice. The editors of Chambers USA 2010 also selected Mr. Chichoni as a "Leader in the Immigration Field." He has represented a vast number of corporate and individual clients throughout his career ranging from premier US health care organizations, Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, multinational corporations and universities to doctors, professors, researchers and students. His international experience includes handling matters relating to export controls and global corporate compliance and business transactions. He has represented clients in a wide variety of cases before the US Immigration Court.
© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.
The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.