Confidentiality in Settlement Agreements

With all of the recent discussion of confidentiality provisions in employment settlement agreements, it seemed appropriate to recount Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Snay, 137 So.3d 1045 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014), a case where a former employee telling his daughter that his case had settled and that he was happy with the result was found to be a breach of a confidentiality provision and required the employee to forgo $80,000 of the settlement.

Patrick Snay sued his former employer, Gulliver Schools, claiming age discrimination and retaliation. The case was settled with an agreement that Gulliver would pay Snay $10,000 in back pay, $80,000 in non-wage damages and $60,000 in attorney’s fees and costs. There was also a confidentiality provision which greatly limited Snay’s ability to say anything about the case and required him to payback $80,000 if he breached the confidentiality provision.

Snay disclosed to his daughter that his case against Gulliver was settled and he was happy with the result. His college-age daughter then posted on Facebook “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

The Florida appellate court held that because Snay had told his daughter that the case was settled and that he was happy with the results Snay was not entitled to the $80,000 payment.

In light of this, employees should be very careful to understand the impact of confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements.

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