Categories: Hospitality

[caption id="attachment_2941" align="alignright" width="113"]Brian W. Steinbach Brian W. Steinbach[/caption]

In rejecting the terms of a collective action settlement in Yun v. Ippudo USA Holdings, No. 14-CV-8706 (S.D.N.Y. March 24, 2016) the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has confirmed the significance of last year’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199 (2015)Cheeks held that parties cannot enter into an enforceable private settlement of Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims without the approval of either the district court or the Department of Labor. Yun shows what this means in practice by highlighting the issues that may arise in seeking to obtain approval.

Yun involved 53 “Collective Members” – five “Named Plaintiffs” and 48 “Opt-In Plaintiffs.” The Court closely analyzed the terms of a proposed settlement agreement, guided by various previous decisions within the Southern District. It had little trouble finding that a recovery for the Collective Members of about 52% of estimated back wages was “fair and reasonable” due to the presence of certain defenses and the litigation risks of proceeding to trial. It also found that service awards to the five Named Plaintiffs totaling 5% of the settlement funds were also “fair and reasonable.” And it also found that a fee award representing one-third of the total recovery was appropriate, rather than a lower fee based on lodestar rates, particularly as the case settled relatively early and before any depositions occurred.

However, the court rejected a limited confidentiality provision that would require all the Collective Members to keep the aggregate settlement amount confidential. In so doing it rejected the Defendants’ argument that the aggregate amount created a “false and disproportional sense of culpability and liability,” particularly as the information was already disclosed in numerous places on the public record through ECF filings. It also emphasized that generally “confidentiality provisions in FLSA settlements are contrary to public policy.”

Finally, the court rejected release language for the Named Plaintiffs that waived not only the right to bring claims relating to payment of compensation (as did the release language for the Opt-In Plaintiffs), but also any and all other claims of any type that they might have against the Defendants. Following other, pre-Cheeks Southern District precedent, it held that while releases in an FLSA settlement may include claims not presented that arise from the same factual predicate as the settled conduct, they cannot include waivers of claims that have no relationship to wage and hour issues. As a consequence, the court ordered the parties to file a revised settlement proposal.

The Yun decision is a warning to FLSA settling parties that the Cheeks decision not only means settlement agreements must be submitted for approval, but also that approval will not be a mere rubber stamp, and provisions that the court feels are overreaching will be rejected. Employers as well as plaintiffs’ attorneys need to review local precedents as to what provisions will and won’t be approved.

Back to Workforce Bulletin Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors

Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Workforce Bulletin posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.