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Prince v. Aramark Corp.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 30, 2017

TYRONE PRINCE, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
ARAMARK CORP., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs in this case are housekeeping employees at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (“Washington Convention Center”) who have sued their employers for unpaid wages and overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Revision Act (“Minimum Wage Act”), the District of Columbia Living Wage Act (“Living Wage Act”), the District of Columbia Wage Payment and Collection Law (“Wage Payment Law”), and District of Columbia common law. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of similarly-situated employees. Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' [37] Consent Motion for Final Approval of Settlement (“Pls.' Mot.”). Upon consideration of the pleadings, the relevant legal authorities, and the record for purposes of this motion, the Court will GRANT Plaintiffs' motion for final approval.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         Named Plaintiffs are housekeeping aides at the Washington Convention Center who are or were employed by Defendants. Compl., ECF No. 1, at ¶ 25. Plaintiffs allege that the wages they received from Defendants were below the minimum or living wage. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiffs also contend that they worked over 40 hours per week without receiving the appropriate amount of overtime compensation. Id. ¶¶ 41-43. Since the filing of this case, 64 similarly-situated employees have filed consents to join the lawsuit, such that there are now 68 Plaintiffs. See Montes v. Janitorial Partners, Inc., No. 15-7107, 2017 WL 2602825, at *1 (D.C. Cir. June 16, 2017) (“the FLSA provides that ‘[n]o employee shall be a party plaintiff to [a collective] action unless he gives his consent in writing . . . and such consent is filed in the court in which such action is brought.'”) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)).

         After the suit was filed and informal discovery was completed, the parties notified the Court that they had reached a settlement in principle. See Joint Status Report, ECF No. 27. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a Consent Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement, which the Court granted on March 14, 2017. See Memorandum Opinion and Or der (March 14, 2017), ECF Nos. 32, 33. In its March 14, 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court preliminarily certified the Plaintiff class for settlement purposes, appointed Plaintiffs' counsel as class counsel, preliminarily approved of the class settlement, approved of the agreed-upon notice to potential class members of the proposed settlement, and set a final hearing on the fairness of the settlement. Id. Class counsel subsequently sent the approved notice to the class members. See Affidavit of Michelle Banker, ECF No. 38.

         On May 22, 2017, the Court held a final hearing on the fairness of the settlement. No objections to the settlement were presented. However, the parties notified the Court at that hearing that four class members had accidentally not received notice. The parties have subsequently informed the Court that those class members have now been given notice and have either affirmatively indicated that they do not object to the settlement, or have failed to object within the time frame provided to do so. In addition to mailing them notice of the settlement, class counsel spoke with three of these members over the phone and the members confirmed that they wanted to be part of the class and had no objection to the class settlement. With respect to the fourth class member-who is currently employed by Aramark-in addition to mailing her notice of the settlement, both class counsel and Defendant Aramark have spoken with her over the phone. She neither indicated orally whether she would opt out or object to the settlement, nor did she indicate her preference in writing, but time has run out for her to do so.

         B. The Terms of the Settlement

         The parties have submitted their proposed class settlement to the Court. See Joint Stipulation of Settlement, ECF Nos. 30-1, 37-2. The key terms of the parties' agreement are as follows.

         First, the parties have agreed that the wages of all of Defendants' employees at the Washington Convention Center will be no less than the applicable living wage required by the Living Wage Act from November 16, 2016 forward. Second, Defendants have agreed to pay Plaintiffs a maximum of $466, 250, plus the costs of settlement administration and any amount of the employers' share of payroll taxes. This $466, 250 would be used to satisfy Plaintiffs' claims for damages, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees and costs. Of this amount, $373, 250 will be paid to the class members as damages. The parties have agreed to request the Court certify a class for the purposes of settlement, and that each member of this class who does not opt out would receive a pro-rata share of the $373, 250 based on his or her share of total estimated damages, with a minimum payment of $100. Further, a total of $4, 000 of the $466, 250 settlement will be paid to the named-Plaintiffs in consideration for their time and effort in prosecuting this lawsuit, and $89, 000 will be paid to satisfy Plaintiffs' claims for attorneys' fees and costs.

         In exchange for these payments, class members who did not opt out of the lawsuit will release Defendants, their predecessors, assigns, and/or related companies from all wage and hour and pay-related claims under the FLSA, District of Columbia law, or any other federal, state, and/or local laws that were or could have been asserted in this lawsuit and that accrued as of November 16, 2016. Defendants deny all liability or wrongdoing and Plaintiffs agree to voluntarily dismiss with prejudice all claims stated in this lawsuit against the Defendants on a class-wide basis.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court's Memorandum Opinion will proceed in three parts. First, the Court will grant final certification of the Plaintiff class for purposes of settlement. Second, the Court will approve of the proposed class settlement as fair, adequate, reasonable and not the product of collusion. ...


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