A Florida court has ruled that a former employee who told his daughter about a confidential settlement agreement with his employer breached the agreement and forfeited his right to the $80,000 settlement. Gulliver Schools Inc. v. Snay (Fl. App. 2014).
Patrick Snay, 69, brought an age-discrimination claim against his former employer, Gulliver Schools, when his contract was not renewed. The parties eventually settled with Gulliver agreeing to pay Snay $10,000 in back pay, $80,000 in settlement of the age-discrimination claim, and $60,000 in attorney fees. The parties signed an agreement that included a strict confidentiality clause. After the settlement was reached, Snay told his college-aged daughter that his case “was settled and he was happy with the result.” The daughter posted on Facebook that “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” She blasted the post to her 1,200 followers, many of whom were current or former Gulliver students.
Gulliver refused to pay the $80,000 settlement. The court found that the confidentiality language was clear and unambiguous and that the dad’s disclosure to the daughter constituted a breach.
Although not all breaches of confidential settlement agreements will be so easy to prove as this one, make sure your settlement agreements are clear about expectations and the consequences for a breach. This agreement was clear that, in the event of a breach, the employee would be required to give up his portion of the settlement proceeds. Contact an MSEC attorney for assistance in drafting settlement agreements.