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Discrimination settlement thwarted by Facebook post

When it came time to discuss the renewal of a 2010-2011 employment contract for the head of a private preparatory school, he was told that it wasn’t going to happen. In this case, the head felt that the decision was not based on legitimate factors but on discrimination instead.

As with a number of cases, this one was settled out of court. The agreement included an $80,000 settlement amount plus $10,000 in back pay. When the agreement was reached, the head and his wife shared some details about the resolution with their daughter. What they told her ended up costing them the entire settlement.

How? The settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause that prevented the husband and wife from sharing any details about the settlement with anyone, excluding their attorneys and other professional advisers.

In this case, the daughter was a student at the school. The parents said that she had been retaliated against and was left with “quite a few psychological scars.” They felt that they had to tell her something. After they did, the daughter posted on Facebook that her parents “won” and that the school “is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Like most social media posts, it spread to other students and school officials.

When the family tried to enforce the settlement, the Florida court agreed but they lost on appeal. The court said that this sharing of information with the daughter and her subsequent post constituted a breach of confidentiality.

This may not have been considered a critical breach in every case or in every court across the country, but that isn’t the point we want to share in this post. The point is more of a cautionary tale that what is said on social media sites is often more public than we might think.

When a legal case is pending and, as noticed in this situation, when it is over, social media should be used with caution. Employees that do seek legal advice can discuss with a Los Angeles attorney the safe parameters of social media use and how it could affect their individual case.

On an even simpler level, it is important that a client understands every detail of a settlement. Before any decision is made in relation to that agreement, clients should discuss this with their attorney as well.

Source: CNN, “Girl costs father $80,000 with ‘SUCK IT’ Facebook post,” Matthew Stucker, March 4, 2014

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