Facebook post costs former school headmaster $80k

A recent decision of a Florida court of appeal highlights the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of a settlement agreement and the potential cost of over-sharing on social media.

Patrick Snay, 69, worked as a headmaster at Gulliver Preparatory School. When his 2010-2011 contract was not renewed, he filed a complaint alleging age discrimination.

The parties entered into a settlement agreement, the terms of which included a confidentiality provision which provided that the existence and terms of the agreement were to be kept strictly confidential or a portion of the settlement proceeds ($80,000) would be disgorged.

After signing the settlement agreement, Mr. Snay and his wife agreed to inform their daughter, Dana, that the case was settled and they were happy with the result. Dana then posted the following on Facebook:

Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.

Many of Dana’s 1200 Facebook friends were current or former Gulliver students.

A few days later, the school notified Mr. Snay that he had breached the settlement agreement.

Mr. Snay applied to enforce the agreement. He argued that he never told Dana that he had “won” the case, Dana did not plan to go to Europe that summer, and he had to tell his daughter something about the resolution of the complaint.

The appellate court ruled that Mr. Snay had breached the confidentiality clause, so he was not entitled to payment of $80,000.

This decision underscores the importance of complying with the strict terms of a confidentiality clause in an agreement.

If you receive funds as a result of a settlement agreement, pay close attention to the language of any confidentiality clause. Conversely, if you are the payor, be sure to specify what aspects of the settlement agreement (such as its existence) are confidential and the consequences of a breach. Finally, be careful of what you post on social media: your tweet, status update or post could cost you.

If you have signed an agreement that contains a confidentiality clause, call us to advise you about your rights and responsibilities.

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567