How Facebook Ruined A Summer Vacation (And A Father-Daughter Relationship)

I do not practice employment law, but I know a good employment law case when I see one. Longtime Connecticut employment attorney Lori Rittman Clark, who is now practicing in Massachusetts, writes about Snay v. Gulliver Prepatory School, a case out of Florida involving the intersection of Facebook, settlement agreement confidentiality and claw back provisions.  In an excerpt from her blog, Clark writes:

Patrick Snay, the former headmaster of Gulliver Preparatory School, filed an age discrimination complaint against Gulliver when his contract was not renewed for the 2010-11 year. At the time he filed his complaint, Mr. Snay was in his mid-60s.  In November 2011, Gulliver and Mr. Snay reached a settlement. The terms of the agreement were that the school would pay Mr. Snay $80,000, plus an additional $10,000 in back pay, and $60,000 in attorney’s fees. The settlement agreement also contained a detailed confidentiality provision, which provided that the existence and terms of the agreement were to be kept strictly confidential. The confidentiality clause also stated that, should Mr. Snay or his wife breach the clause, Mr. Snay would forfeit $80,000 of the settlement proceeds.

Notwithstanding the agreement’s confidentiality provision, Mr. Snay told his daughter, Dana, that the case had settled and that he was happy with the result. Dana, a former student at Gulliver, then took to Facebook and posted the following: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Dana Snay’s 1,200 Facebook followers included many current and former students at the School. It did not take long for the school’s administrators to learn about the post.

At which point the school argued that the Facebook post violated the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement and that Snay had to pay back the $80,000.  The courts agreed.

Something tells me that dinners in the Snay house will be very uncomfortable for a while.

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