It’s very important to never underestimate the power of people spying on one another on Facebook and other social media networks. Just two little words, “suck it,” cost a man 80 grand after his daughter took to Facebook to brag about a big settlement her father had just won in court. The problem? The settlement came attached with a confidentiality order that was violated when the man’s daughter boasted of her father’s victory. Tattletales on Facebook quickly informed the school involved in the dispute, who took the matter to a judge, who promptly overturned the settlement. Ouch.
Patrick Snay, 69 – the previous head of Guillver Preparatory School – had taken the school to court when his 2010-2011 contract was dropped. He said he was being discriminated against because of his age, and the courts agreed. In November 2011, the school and Snay came to an agreement that Snay would be paid $10,000 in back pay, and an $80,000 settlement.
Promptly upon hearing the news, Snay’s daughter penned a bragging status update, which said “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
The message got blasted to the girl’s 1,200 Facebook associates, which included numerous current and previous students of the school where her father used to work. As might be expected, within days, Gulliver School sent a letter to Snay’s lawyers saying Snay had broken the confidentiality agreement, and that he might not be received the $80,000 settlement after all.
The suit originally involved Snay’s daughter as well as the age discrimination he faced. Perhaps that was the reason she lashed out on Facebook with two little words that cost him 80 grand. A week ago, a judge concurred with lawyers from the school that Snay had violated the confidentiality agreement, saying that he did exactly what he said he would not do, which was to denigrate the school in public. Snay had also promised to refrain from discussing the case with anyone but those sanctioned by the agreement.
The European trip the girl boasted about on Facebook was later found to be a joke. Snay said he had told his daughter about the settlement despite the confidentiality agreement to make up for what he called his daughter’s “psychological scars” from the court battle and the age discrimination against him.
When the court handed down its decision to withdraw the $80,000 payout, the judge said it was because the message would have been seen by at least 1,200 people—Snay’s daughter’s friends on Facebook—and that this was a direct violation of what Snay had said would not happen. The speed with which Snay’s payment was withdrawn is a direct testament to the power of social media; and the rapid response of snitches on Facebook when someone makes a misstep.
80 grand is a very big price to pay for two little words on Facebook, but the reality is, it could happen to anyone. That’s why it pays to be prudent and careful when interacting with social media, especially when money is on the line. The cost is not worth the momentary satisfaction of the brag.
By: Rebecca Savastio