Facebook Rears Its Ugly Head Again

04.24.2014

It’s no secret that Facebook can cause problems.  Marital troubles, bullying, the list goes on and on.  It also poses problems for employers when employees take to the Web and post information about their employment or co-workers.  I could write a book on that topic alone. 

Here’s another lesson for employers and employees alike.  A Florida appeals court recently ruled that a prep school headmaster who sued for age discrimination and settled the case for $80,000 was no longer entitled to the settlement funds after his daughter posted about the settlement on Facebook.  The agreement included a stipulation that the headmaster and his wife not disclose the settlement details to anyone.  After the settlement, their daughter commented to her 1,200+ friends, writing "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."

The school found out about the comment and claimed it violated the settlement’s confidentiality agreement, and the Court agreed and ordered the headmaster was not entitled to the settlement funds.  "[The headmaster] violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do. His daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent, advertising to the [school] community that [the headmaster] had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school.” 

Lesson learned.  I wouldn’t want to be at that dinner table anytime soon!