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Are These Tickets Refundable? Daughter's Facebook Boast Violates Settlement Agreement
By T. Christopher Bailey on March 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

LikeFacebook-iStock_000026017919SmallFacebook, Twitter, Instagram - what better way to announce an unexpected European vacation to your friends? That is, unless the funds used for the trip are the proceeds of a settlement agreement containing a confidentiality provision. In that case, according to a Florida court, social media is definitely not your friend (Gulliver School, Inc. v. Snay, 2014 51911, Fl. Dist. Ct. App., 2/26/14).

On February 26, 2014, the Florida District Court of Appeals ruled that a former school headmaster violated the terms of an age discrimination settlement agreement because of his daughter’s announcement on Facebook. The Facebook post, which was transmitted to the Dana Snay’s 1,200 Facebook friends (including current and former Gulliver students) read,

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

Patrick (“Papa”) Snay sued the Gulliver School alleging age discrimination and retaliation under the Florida Civil Rights Act when his employment contract was not renewed. The parties reached a settlement, through which Snay was to receive $10,000 in lost wages and $80,000 in compensatory damages. However, the settlement agreement included a confidentiality provision requiring that information regarding the settlement not be disclosed, otherwise the school could recover the $80,000 in compensatory damages. 

Dana Snay’s Facebook announcement was made before the ink was dry on the settlement agreement. But, contrary to Dana’s suggestion, Gulliver didn’t “suck it.” Instead, Gulliver withheld the $80,000 payment citing a breach of the confidentiality provision. Patrick Snay filed a motion to enforce the settlement and a lower court agreed that the confidentiality provision had not been violated. The school appealed, however, and an appellate court reversed the prior ruling, holding that Dana’s Facebook post violated the confidentiality provision. In ruling in favor of the school, the court stated that the Facebook post announced “to the Gulliver community that Snay had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school,” which was “precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent.” As a result, Gulliver was entitled to withhold the $80,000 payment.

There is no word yet on whether the Snays are still planning to go to Europe this summer, but perhaps Dana’s Facebook page will keep us informed.

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