Ex-Associate's Suit Can Proceed Against Flaster Greenberg

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Pa Eastern District Court Judge John R. Padova

A federal judge has allowed a former Flaster Greenberg associate to continue with her claims for breach of implied contract and promissory estoppel/detrimental reliance against the firm, but dismissed her claim for negligent misrepresentation.

In Jones v. Flaster Greenberg, according to court documents, plaintiff Taffie Jones, a former associate in the intellectual property practice of Flaster Greenberg's Philadelphia office, claimed she was fired soon after she notified the firm's human resources department that the shareholder she was working under was creating a hostile work environment.

In a Dec. 30 opinion, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Flaster Greenberg's motion to dismiss Jones' claim that the firm breached its implied contract by firing her without just cause eight months after she moved from Chicago to join the firm.

Padova also denied Flaster Greenberg's motion to dismiss Jones' claim for promissory estoppel/detrimental reliance in which she claimed the firm broke its promise that she would be mentored by shareholder and IP department chair Lynda L. Calderone.

Padova did, however, grant the firm's motion to dismiss Jones' claim for negligent misrepresentation, finding that the firm's alleged promise to Jones that she would be mentored by Calderone and other senior attorneys was not a sufficient basis on which to establish such a claim.

Jones alleged in her complaint, which was originally filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in April of last year before the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, that when she was offered a job with the firm in early 2012, she was promised that she would be mentored by Calderone.

But soon after she began her employment with Flaster Greenberg, the work environment became hostile, largely due to Calderone's treatment of her, Jones alleged in the complaint.

"Attorney Calderone would regularly berate, insult, use profanities and yell at plaintiff," Jones alleged in the complaint. "Additionally, on one occasion she even physically prevented plaintiff from leaving a conference room until she was finished berating her."

Jones alleged that Calderone refused to give her work, causing her to fail to meet her billable hour requirements, and "would regularly make false statements" about Jones' job performance, including that she missed deadlines and made too many errors in her written work, according to the complaint.

"Attorney Calderone would also often fail to provide plaintiff with the necessary information for her to properly conduct and complete her work," the complaint alleged.

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