Often times, I wind up securing great settlements on cases for clients, not only because the facts are strong, or the violations bad, but for another main reason – Confidentiality. That’s right, if an employer settles your case, they are buying your silence. Generally, employers are willing to overpay for your silence as well, because if it gets out that they settled with you, then other people are going to sue them for the same issue to get a quick settlement. Over the years, I have instructed clients that if they sign a confidentiality clause, they better adhere to it. Because, if it is found that they violated the provision and spoke to people about the agreement, they have to pay the settlement money back plus the employer’s attorneys’ fees and costs. While I’m certain most clients adhered to this warning, I am certain that other clients have blabbed about their settlements to close friends and extended family. This recently backfired for a Florida man who secured a settlement from his employer (thankfully not a client of mine).
This individual received $80,000 as part of his settlement. He told his wife and his daughter which, generally will be alright if they keep it quiet. But, this man’s daughter decided to go to facebook and brag about her dad’s settlement and gloat that the employer was paying for her trip to Europe that summer. Bad idea. Really bad idea. The employer learned about the facebook posting and sued the individual for all of the settlement money back, because the confidentiality clause was violated. The court agreed and the money had to be paid back. All of it. And, I’m sure some of it already was spent, so the individual had to go to his own pocket to pay the money back, plus likely pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
My two cents- if you settle your case, keep it to yourself. Otherwise, you may be paying your employer back the settlement amount, and then some.