One simple status update to Facebook has cost one family not just potentially $80,000, but any opportunity to have their story heard and validated. In a peculiar twist of events, a settlement agreement reached by an individual and their former employer has been ruled null and void, pending appeal, by an alleged breach of confidentiality by the claimant’s daughter. Attorneys for Gulliver Prepatory School in Miami allege that a daughter’s Facebook status update, which purported that her parents had won their case against the school violated the confidentiality agreement per terms of the settlement, breaching exactly that which confidentiality was designed to protect.
Are there reasons for confidentiality? Absolutely. It protects the credibility of this institution and their unblemished public appearance in return for hush money, especially in cases of frivolous lawsuits. As a private school receiving their monies from voluntary enrollment tuition, public image is extremely important to them. However, that doesn’t morally justify the overturning of the settlement even if confidentiality is deemed breached. If the settlement is rendered null and void, the real victims will suffer even greater harm than they already have. Moral exoneration was already subdued by the confidentiality agreement, but now the family may potentially receive absolutely no redress, monetarily or otherwise, from the alleged true perpetrators who should be the ones under scrutiny – Gulliver Prepatory School.
Perhaps some believe that the family has received some moral redress by virtue of the story appearing in the national media spotlight. However, this notion is terribly misguided. This clearly isn’t the sort of moral redress a victim of real discrimination and retaliation would seek. The story being portrayed is about the victims and what they did wrong, not details about the school and the alleged serious wrongdoings they are accused of. Worse, the victims cannot even disclose these allegations due to the legal process. The family does not want to jeopardize their chances of appeal by revealing details, as they know they will be unable to litigate in court if they do lose. Hush money or no money is their only option at this point.
Regardless of outcome, we will never be able to judge the true merits of the case now. If the settlement agreement is upheld, confidentiality will continue to be enforced. However, if the settlement agreement is voided, not only will they receive no hush money, the merits of the claims will be unable to be debated in open court as a result of their voiding the settlement agreement in the first place. Potentially, the real perpetrators and their wrongdoings remain unaddressed, and the victims will be worse off than they were before bringing the claim. One Facebook status update by a high school student potentially breaching confidentiality hardly justifies in a moral sense leaving potential victims of discriminatory retaliation without even without the blow softening of cold hard cash.