Court Approves Renewed Settlement in FLSA Slaughterhouse Worker Overtime Case

Judge Leslie A. Gardner of the Middle District of Georgia gave the greenlight to a settlement concerning two Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who worked in an abattoir on defendant White Oak Pasture, Inc.’s (White Oak) farm. The order, filed on Tuesday, ends the suits brought by employees who slaughtered, cut, and grounded cattle into packaged meat for eventual shipment. The first case, filed in 2015, and the second in 2020, alleged that White Oak willfully failed to pay them and 32 other opt-in workers overtime premiums in violation of federal labor law.

This week’s order recounts the cases’ procedural history. Relevantly, the court decertified the employee class in March 2020, while simultaneously denying the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. The second case was subsequently filed in April, and in July, the parties moved to stay proceedings in both actions in order to finalize their settlement. The litigants filed their first motion for settlement approval in November 2020.

On Jan. 20, 2021, the court rejected the proposed agreement because, while otherwise acceptable, the proffered agreement included a “pervasive release.” The present order considered the parties’ revised motion and amended provision, limiting released claims to those which could be brought under the FLSA. The court found the amended clause reasonable and granted the motion, dismissing the consolidated suits with prejudice.

The plaintiffs are represented by JF Beasley, LLC and DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin, LLC. White Oak is represented by Hall, Gilligan, Roberts & Shanlever LLP.