United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ENFORCE
SETTLEMENT; GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR
ATTORNEY'S FEES RE: DKT. NO. 63
H. KOH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Francisca Ramirez (“Plaintiff”) sued Defendant
Benito Valley Farm, LLC (“Defendant”) for
individual claims and representative claims under the
California Private Attorney General's Act
(“PAGA”) arising from Plaintiff's employment
with Defendant. On August 25, 2017, the Court granted
approval of the parties' settlement pursuant to PAGA. ECF
No. 61. Before the Court is Plaintiff's unopposed motion
to enforce the settlement. Having considered Plaintiff's
submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case,
the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to enforce the
worked for Defendant from 2006 to 2016 as a seasonal
agricultural worker harvesting green beans. ECF No. 54 at 2.
During this time Plaintiff lived with her family in housing
owned by Defendant. Id. Plaintiff alleges that her
supervisor, Foreman Alfonso Flores, created a hostile work
environment and engaged in discrimination and retaliation
directed at Plaintiff. Id. at 3. Plaintiff also
alleges Defendant failed to comply with its legal duties in
the provision of housing because the employee housing in
which Plaintiff resided contained serious habitability
issues, including inadequate flooring and the presence of
rats and flies. Id.
complained about these habitability issues, but Defendant
failed to adequately address the issues. Id.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant repeatedly failed to
compensate employees for all hours worked, failed to pay
overtime wages, and between 2012 and 2014, failed to provide
rest and meal breaks. Id. Plaintiff also alleges
that Defendant's payroll records and paycheck registers
were defective and contain inaccurate information.
Plaintiff's Lawsuit Against Defendant
filed the complaint in the instant case on August 17, 2016.
ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint
(“FAC”) on September 15, 2016. ECF No. 14. The
FAC contained twenty claims, which sought damages for
Plaintiff's nineteen individual claims and civil
penalties under the PAGA. Defendant filed an answer,
apparently to the original complaint, on October 25, 2016.
ECF No. 20. Defendant filed an answer to the FAC on December
9, 2016. ECF No. 34.
March 10, 2017, the parties attended a mediation session and
reached a tentative settlement. ECF No. 54 at 4. After
several more rounds of negotiation, the parties executed a
settlement agreement on June 12, 2017. Id. This
settlement agreement, discussed in more detail below,
provides $40, 700 in compensation for Plaintiff's
individual damages, $27, 500 in civil penalties under the
PAGA, injunctive relief, and $41, 800 in attorney's fees,
for a total settlement amount of $110, 000. See ECF
No. 53-1 (“Settlement Agreement”).
23, 2017, Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion for approval of
the settlement. ECF No. 53. Under PAGA, “court[s] shall
review and approve any settlement of any civil action filed
pursuant to [PAGA].” Cal. Labor Code § 2699(1)(2).
Accordingly, the Court was required to approve the settlement
provisions related to Plaintiff's PAGA claims. In
addition, Plaintiff requested approval of the settlement
provisions providing for attorney's fees and costs. ECF
No. 54 at 13.
August 25, 2017, the Court approved those portions of the
settlement relating to Plaintiff's PAGA claims and those
portions of the settlement providing for attorney's fees
and costs. ECF No. 61.
Court now discusses specific relevant provisions of the
settlement. First, the settlement requires Defendant to
implement certain business practices and “comply with
all California wage and hour laws.” Settlement
Agreement § I.A. Specifically, Defendant agreed
“that Plaintiff's counsel will conduct an audit of
payroll in March 2018.” Id. § I.B.
Defendant also agreed to “join a Farmer Employer
Association, ” id. § I.C., and to
“take steps necessary to ensure that Supervisors,
Foreman [sic], and non-supervisory employees are properly
trained” on sexual harassment policies and procedures.
Id. § I.D. Defendant also agreed that “at
least one time during each harvesting season, the crew
Foreman will conduct a ‘tail-gate' meeting with his
or her crew members on the topic of preventing sexual
harassment and retaliation.” Id. §
I.D.ii. Finally, Defendant agreed to provide employees with a
written notice in Spanish “informing them of a
dedicated telephone number for reporting harassment directly
to the owner.” Id. § I.E.
the Settlement requires Defendant to pay $40, 700 to
Plaintiff, id. § II.A.i.; $41, 800 to
Plaintiff's counsel's for attorney's fees and
costs, id. § II.A.ii.; and $27, 500 in PAGA
civil penalties to eligible employees. As the Court explained
in approving the settlement, 226 employees were eligible to
receive a proportionate share of the PAGA civil penalties.
ECF No. 61 at 3. Because the penalties were classified as
underpaid wages, the money in the PAGA fund was paid entirely
to the affected employees. Id. at 6-7; see also
Thurman v. Bayshore Transit Mgmt., Inc., 203 Cal.App.4th
1112, 1145 (2012) (explaining that under PAGA,
“underpaid wages go entirely to the affected employee
or employees as an express exception to the general rule that
civil penalties recovered in a PAGA action are distributed 75
percent to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA)
and 25 percent to the aggrieved employees”).
settlement requires Defendant to pay Plaintiff her individual
payment within three months of the Court's approval of
the settlement. Settlement Agreement § III.A. The
agreement also requires Defendant to pay PAGA penalties to
employees within nine months of the Court's approval and
to pay Plaintiff's counsel's ...