United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
CELESTINE LEJEAUN, ET AL.
WASTE CONNECTIONS OF LOUISIANA, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is Defendant Progressive Waste Solutions of LA,
Inc.'s “Motion for Partial Summary Judgment to
Enforce Compromise” (Rec. Doc. 14), Plaintiff's
“Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment to Enforce Compromise” (Rec. Doc. 21),
and Defendant's “Reply Memorandum in Support of
Motion for Summary Judgment to Enforce Compromise”
(Rec. Doc. 25). For the reasons discussed below, IT
IS ORDERED that the Defendant Progressive Waste
Solutions of LA, Inc.'s “Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment to Enforce Compromise” (Rec. Doc. 14) is
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Celestine is one of three named plaintiffs bringing
forth allegations regarding an employment and wage dispute
against Defendants, Waste Connections of Louisiana Inc.
(“Defendant WCL”), Progressive Waste Solutions of
LA Inc. (“Defendant PWS”), Waste Connections U.S.
Inc. (“Defendant WCUS”), and IESI LA Landfill
Corporation (“Defendant IESI”), collectively
referred to herein as “Defendants.” Plaintiffs
bring their claims on behalf of themselves and a class of
similarly situated individuals.
instant motion for Partial Summary Judgment, submitted by
Defendant PWS seeks dismissal of Plaintiff Celestine's
claims based on prior agreement entered between Plaintiff
Celestine and Defendant PWS. Rec. Docs. 14-2, 21-1. The
uncontested facts of this case provide that Plaintiff
Celestine was hired by Defendant PWS as a driver in August
2015. Id. In early 2016, Plaintiff Celestine made a
complaint about the calculation of his wages. Rec. Doc. 23-2
at 5. Following his complaint, investigation revealed errors
in Plaintiff's compensation rates. Id. Plaintiff
Celestine was compensated for $3, 095.20 in underpaid wages.
Rec. Docs. 14-2, 23-2. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff
Celestine was terminated by Defendant PWS.
termination, Plaintiff Celestine signed a “Release of
All Claims” (the “Release”) and an
“Acknowledgment” of payments he received in
backpay. Rec. Docs. 14-7 and 14-4. According to the Release,
in consideration of execution Plaintiff Celestine was to be
paid $550.80, in addition to any payments/benefits he might
otherwise be entitled to receive. Id. The instant
motion by Defendant PWS asserts that Plaintiff Celestine
should be dismissed as a party to this lawsuit as a result of
language in the above-mentioned Release and the
Acknowledgment that allegedly bar his claims and acknowledge
full compensation. Rec. Doc. 14. In the alternative, the
instant motion requests Plaintiff Celestine not be allowed to
bring forth his claims on behalf of a putative class in
accordance with the terms of the Release. Id.
PWS asserts that Plaintiff Celestine knowingly and
voluntarily executed a valid and enforceable release of the
claims alleged in the Complaint. Rec. Doc. 14-1. Defendant
PWS further argues that in the alternative, Plaintiff
Celestine has waived and relinquished his right to serve in a
representative capacity as to the claims alleged in the
Celestine contends that he did not waive his claim under the
Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”), and requests
this Court allow him to proceed individually to pursue his
FLSA overtime claim. Rec. Doc. 21. Plaintiff also seeks a
delayed ruling under Rule 56(d). Id.
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When considering a motion for summary
judgment, the court should view all facts and evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. United Fire
& Cas. Co. v. Hixson Bros. Inc., 453 F.3d 283, 285
(5th Cir. 2006). Mere conclusory allegations are insufficient
to defeat summary judgment. Eason v. Thaler, 73 F.3d
1322, 1325 (5th Cir. 1996).
policy favors enforcement of privately-settled employment
claims, only where the employee's release of claims is
“knowing” and “voluntary.” See
Williams v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 23 F.3d 930, 935
(5th Cir. 1994)(citing Alexander v. Gardner-Denver
Co., 415 U.S. 36, 527 (1974)). Determining what
constitutes knowing and voluntary requires analysis under the
“totality of the circumstances.” O'Hare
v. Glob. Nat. Res., Inc., 898 F.2d 1015, 1017 (5th Cir.
1990). The Fifth Circuit has held the following,
non-exhaustive, list of factors are relevant in such
determination of voluntariness:
(1) the plaintiff's education and business experience,
(2) the amount of time the plaintiff had possession of or
access to the agreement before signing it, (3) the role of
plaintiff in deciding the terms of the agreement, (4) the
clarity of the agreement, (5) whether the plaintiff was
represented by or consulted with an attorney, and (6) whether
the consideration given in exchange for the waiver exceeds
employee benefits to which the employee was already entitled
by contract or law.
Id. Also added to the above list is whether or not
an employer encourages an employee to consult an attorney,
and whether the employee had opportunity to do so.
Bormann v. AT & T Commc'ns, Inc.,
875 F.2d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 1989).
regards to the FLSA specifically, the general rule
establishes that FLSA claims cannot be waived; however,
excepted from this are unsupervised settlements that are
reached due to a bona fide FLSA dispute over hours worked or
compensation owed. Bodle v. TXL Mortg. Corp., 788
F.3d 159, 165 (5th Cir. 2015). The Fifth Circuit has reasoned
that such an exception does not undermine the purpose of the
FLSA because employees do not waive their claims through some
sort of bargain but instead receive compensation for the
disputed hours.See generally Martin v. Spring Break
'83 Prods., L.L.C.,688 F.3d 247, 256 (5th Cir.
2012). For example, in Martinez, the court held that
the plaintiff's acceptance of a check for $1, 000 for
settlement of all overtime claims at issue ...