United States District Court, D. Kansas
WYATT CHRISTESON, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated employees, Plaintiff,
AMAZON.COM.KSDC, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KATHRYN H. VRATIL United States District Judge
Christeson brings suit against Amazon.com.ksdc, LLC on behalf
of himself and others similarly situated, alleging that
defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's
Unopposed Motion For Conditional Certification Of Proposed
Settlement Class And Preliminary Approval Of the Parties'
Settlement Agreement And Release And Notice To Settlement
Class Members (Doc. #40) filed April 30, 2019. For
reasons stated below, the Court sustains the motion in small
Factual And Procedural Background
Lawsuit And Claims
operates fulfillment centers for the online retailer
Amazon.com. From January 25, 2015 to March 31, 2018,
defendant employed eight IT Support Engineers, including
plaintiff. Defendant pays its IT Support Engineers an hourly
rate, plus time and one-half for each hour worked over 40
hours in a workweek.
January 25, 2018, plaintiff filed a putative FLSA collective
action on behalf of himself and all similarly situated
employees who regularly worked more than 40 hours per week
and did not receive compensation for overtime hours. See
Complaint (Doc. #1) filed January 25, 2018 at 1.
Plaintiff asserts that defendant advises its IT Support
Engineers the maximum number of hours they are permitted to
record for each week - 40, 49 or 55 hours - and that they are
not permitted to record additional hours, regardless whether
their job duties require additional hours. He asserts that
when an IT Support Engineer records more than the maximum
hours, a supervisor instructs the engineer to revise his or
her timesheet to reflect the permitted maximum. Plaintiff
further asserts that the engineer is not paid for such
disputes plaintiff's claims and asserts that IT Support
Engineers are responsible for accurately recording their time
and that defendant prohibits them from performing
off-the-clock work. Defendant asserts that its records
establish that it never failed to compensate plaintiff or any
other IT Support Engineer for compensable work, and that
plaintiff never performed unrecorded work. Alternatively,
defendant asserts that any FLSA violation was not willful.
First Motion For Settlement Approval
August 6, 2018, the parties informed the Court that they had
reached a settlement agreement. See Joint Notice Of
Settlement (Doc. #20). On November 9, 2018, the parties
reduced their agreement to writing. See Third Joint
Status Report (Doc. #27). On December 10, 2018, they
filed motions for approval of the settlement agreement,
attorney's fees and costs and service award. See
Joint Motion To Approve Settlement Agreement And Release
(Doc. #29); Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion To Approve
Fees, Costs, And Expenses (Doc. #31);
Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion To Approve Service
Award (Doc. #33).
January 29, 2019, the Court overruled all three motions
because the parties had failed to seek conditional
certification of the proposed class and preliminary
settlement approval before asking for final certification and
settlement approval. Memorandum And Order (Doc. #35)
at 9. The Court explained the proper procedure for an FLSA
settlement and, in anticipation of a renewed motion,
identified several defects with the proposed settlement.
Among other things, the Court stated that any renewed motion
for settlement approval should (1) narrow overly-broad
releases; (2) remove confidentiality provisions; (3) remove a
non-disparagement clause; and (4) remove a prohibition on
plaintiff's future employment with defendants.
Id. at 12-15. In addition, the Court noted its
concern about settlement agreements in which defendants agree
not to object to or oppose a fee request. Id. at 16.
The Court further noted that if low plaintiff participation
caused a large portion of the maximum fund to revert to
defendant, it would affect the Court's assessment of the
reasonableness of the requested attorney's fees and
service award. Id. at 16-17.
Motion For Conditional Certification, Notice Approval And
Preliminary Settlement Approval
April 30, 2019, plaintiff filed an unopposed motion for
conditional certification of the proposed class, preliminary
approval of the amended settlement agreement and release, and
approval of the proposed notice to class members. Motion
For Conditional Certification (Doc. #40) at 1-2.
asks the Court to conditionally certify a collective action
consisting of “[plaintiff] and seven other IT Support
Engineers who worked for [defendant] at any time between
January 25, 2015, and March 31, 2018 (the ‘Settlement
Class Members').” Id. at 1. Under the
amended settlement agreement, defendant agrees to pay each
Settlement Class Member who opts in (“Participating
Plaintiff”) $250.00 plus approximately $195.00 for each
instance in which the Participating Plaintiff recorded 40, 49
or 55 hours in a workweek. This entitles each Participating
Plaintiff to between $250.00 and $3, 762.00, depending on his
or her timesheets. If all seven IT Support Engineers opt in
and become Participating Plaintiffs, defendant will pay up to
$61, 636.00, which includes plaintiff's request for up to
$35, 000.00 in attorney's fees, up to $2, 467.62 in costs
and up to a $5, 000.00 service award to plaintiff. After it
issues settlement payments, defendant will retain any
unclaimed funds, subject to the following proviso: “If
the Court determines that this provision is not proper due to
a low participation rate among the Settlement Class Members
or for any other reason, [defendant] agrees that it will
redistribute any unclaimed funds from the Net Settlement
Amount on a pro-rata basis to the Participating
Plaintiffs.” Amended Settlement
Agreement at 8, Exhibit 1 To Motion For
Conditional Certification (Doc. #40). Class Counsel will
seek approval of the cost and fee award and service award
when he or she requests final approval of the amended
settlement agreement and dismissal of the lawsuit.
addition, Participating Plaintiffs agree to release the
following claims (the “Participating Plaintiffs'
Released Claims”) ...