Call it the biggest Facebook mistake ever. A daughter’s snarky status update has cost her father the $80,000 settlement he won in an age-discrimination lawsuit.
According to the Miami Herald, Patrick Snay, 69, was the headmaster at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami for several years, but in 2010, the school didn’t renew his contract. Snay sued his former employer for age discrimination and won a settlement of $80,000 in November 2011. The agreement contained a standard confidentiality clause, prohibiting Snay or the school from talking about the case.
However, Snay’s daughter, Dana, now at Boston College and a part-time Starbucks barista, couldn’t resist bragging about the case on Facebook. “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” she wrote. “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
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Dana has 1,200 Facebook friends, many of whom are current and former Gulliver students, and news of the post made its way back to the school’s lawyers, who appealed the verdict. The Third District Court of Appeal tossed out the $80,000 settlement earlier this week. “Snay violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do,” Judge Linda Ann Wells wrote. “His daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent.”
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According to depositions obtained by the Miami Herald, Snay argued that he needed to share the news with his daughter because she suffered “psychological scars” from her time at the school and besides, she knew her parents were in mediation. “We knew what the restrictions were, yet we needed to tell her something,” he said. Snay is now headmaster at Riviera Preparatory Academy in Coral Gables. He is allowed to file a motion for rehearing and also appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.
However, the odds of Snay's winning his money back are slim, according to attorney Bradley Shear. “It depends on the terms of the confidentiality contract; each one is different, but the damage is likely done,” Shear tells Yahoo Shine. “Some confidentiality agreements stipulate that the client cannot tell people who are not involved in the case: others prohibit anyone from knowing. Facebook is a public forum, even if her profile is set to private, and that’s where the mistake was made.”
Had Snay’s daughter been discreet, the court would not have discovered the family had violated Snay's contract. “The bottom line is, when involved in legal proceedings, don’t disclose anything on social media,” says Shear. “It’s not worth it.”
Oh, and that European vacation? Probably not happening now.
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