Confidentiality Agreement. Facebook.

Time, and time again, we’ve seen celebrities, politicians and other public figures embroiled in controversy over Tweets or Facebook posts that have us scratching our heads and asking – why? But social media blunders aren’t exclusive to the rich and famous, in fact, people get into hot water every day for something they posted online.

Legal Documents. Contracts.

Case in point…
Patrick Snay, 69, sued his employer, Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, for age discrimination. The two parties reached a settlement and Mr. Snay received $80,000 along with $10,000 in back pay. He signed a contract, and as we all know contracts are legal documents. Case closed – everyone happy!
But not so fast…
Unfortunately, Mr. Snay’s teenage daughter, Dana, was seemingly unaware of the stipulations of the settlement when she went on her Facebook account to celebrate her father’s victory in the suit, a victory that was short-lived.
The post read:
“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Breach of Contract. Contract Law.

When the school became aware of the Facebook post it immediately took steps to rescind the settlement on the grounds that confidentiality agreement attached to the settlement was violated. Essentially, Mr. Snay breached the terms of his confidentiality agreement. his contract. Mr. Snay went back to court in order to have the settlement reinstated, however, the Florida District Court of Appeal ruled on behalf of the school stating that Mr. Snay was in violation of the agreement.
Confidentiality agreements are often an integral part of legal settlements, and courts are quick to enforce them.  So make sure the one you use is legal, enforceable, current, and incorporates updated law for your particular state.  One size does NOT fit all, when it comes to contracts.
Last month a judge ruled that Oksana Grigorieva, the ex-wife of actor Mel Gibson, violated a confidentiality agreement in her divorce settlement with the movie star when she appeared on the Howard Stern show in October of 2013 and briefly spoke about her life with the movie star. The mistake will cost her the last $375,000 of her $750,000 settlement with ex-husband.
So remember… don’t snatch defeat from the mouth of victory by discussing a settlement with a confidentiality agreement. If you are involved in a settlement, make sure you have the proper legal representation and make sure you thoroughly understand each and every stipulation within it.

  1. Make sure your agreements are well drafted and incorporate updated law;
  2. Do not cut and paste your contracts, unless you know exactly what you are doing;
  3. Read all agreements that you sign carefully. If there is a confidentiality provision, makes sure you know what you are NOT allowed to discuss;
  4. Abide by the terms of the agreement that you sign.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter page, and in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

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