There was a time when parents worried about their daughters posting naked pictures on Facebook. Now the fear is that she’ll post family secrets.
Welcome to the Brave New Tech World where family meetings will require CLEs for the kiddies. In this case: On breaking confidentiality agreements.
Patrick Snay, former headmaster for Gulliver Preparatory School, did not have his contract renewed by the school in 2010. Snay sued the school, allegeding age discrimination. Probably to avert the expense of a protracted legal battle and a possible jury trial and Snay, to avoid being locked in litigation for years, the school and Snay came to a settlement agreement for $80,000.
As is common in settlements of this kind, the agreement contained a confidentiality clause. For those learning the rules of the game at home, a confidentiality clause means that neither Snay, nor the school, could talk about the settlement. Fairly simple, right?
What The Girl Did:
Apparently daughter Dana Snay didn’t get the email. Several days after the settlement agreement was signed, she posted this to her 1,200 Facebook friends, according to the Miami Herald:
“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
Oh it sucks alright.
What The Court Did:
A Florida court immediately threw out the $80,000 settlement. Patrick Snay violated confidentiality when he told his daughter, and his daughter totally blew out the agreement on Facebook.
Why Confidentiality Clauses Are Included in Settlement Agreements:
A settlement agreement does not assign fault or liability to the parties involved in the cause of legal action that generates a law suit. The Gulliver school did not admit to discriminating against Patrick Snay and on his part, it was worth the $80,000 agreement to get on with his life. By claiming that”Mama and Papa Snay won the case” that is exactly the kind of simplistic viewpoint that confidentiality agreements are designed to avoid. The daughter’s comments impart the suggestion that the school had in fact discriminated against Mr. Snay and hence, the money award. Not the case. Gulliver did not concede or admit to discrimination.
Facebook conversations are not private. Come on, now. We all know this and if there is an important family or business matter in the know by a select group of people privy to this information, they need to know or be instructed to zip it.
Perhaps Dana Snay will go on to law school. She has a great story as to how lawyering become her vocation.
BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.
As always, stay safe.