$80,000 Discrimination Settlement Overturned after Plaintiff’s Daughter Advertised it on Facebook.

On February 26, 2014, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida overturned an $80,000 discrimination settlement agreement in the Gulliver Schools, Inc., a Florida corporation, and School Management Systems, Inc., a Florida corporation vs. Patrick Snay case. The Court of Appeals decided that the settlement was void and null because the settlement was advertised on Facebook by Patrick Say’s daughter.

In this case, Patrick Say sued Gulliver Schools for age discrimination and retaliation when the school decided not to renew Snay’s employment contract. Patrick Say was 66 at the time. Gulliver Schools decided to settle the case in November of 2011 and agreed to pay Patrick Snay $80,000. The settlement agreement contained a confidentiality clause which provided that the existence an terms of the settlement agreement should remain between Snay and Gulliver Schools and should be not be disclosed to anyone. The confidentiality clause stated: “Confidentiality. . . [T]he plaintiff shall not either directly or indirectly, disclose, discuss or communicate to any entity or person, except his attorneys or other professional advisors or spouse any information whatsoever regarding the existence or terms of this Agreement. . . A breach . . .will result in disgorgement of the Plaintiffs portion of the settlement Payments.” If the agreement were to be revealed to anyone, the $80,000 settlement proceeds would be void. Four days after the settlement agreement was signed between the parties, Patrick Say’s daughter posted a comment on Facebook about the settlement agreement stating: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Patrick Say’s daughter had 1200 friends on Facebook and many of them were either current or past Gulliver students. Gulliver Schools quickly notified Patrick Snay that he had breached the confidentiality clause of the settlement agreement based on his daughter’s posting on Facebook.

Thereafter, Gulliver Schools, Inc. appealed the trial court order granting plaintiff Patrick Snay’s motion to compel enforcement of settlement agreement. The school argued that Patrick Snay is precluded from enforcing the agreement because he breached one of the core elements of the settlement agreement specifically prohibiting Patrick Snay or his wife to “‘either directly or indirectly’ disclose to anyone (other than their lawyers or other professionals) ‘any information’ regarding the existence or the terms of the parties’ agreement.” The Court of Appeals decided that Patrick Say’s conversation with his daughter (“[m]y conversation with my daughter was that it was settled and we were happy with the results”) established a breach of the confidentiality provision because the fact that he “needed to tell his daughter something did not excuse this breach.” Therefore, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court order granting the Patrick Snays’ motion to enforce the agreement and be paid $80,000.

If you are an employee and you believe you are being discriminated against based on your age or that you have been retaliated against, please contact the Harman Firm, P.C.