Flaster Greenberg, fired attorney reach settlement in wrongful termination case

By Jon Campisi | Mar 3, 2014

A settlement has reportedly been reached in a wrongful termination case

brought against the law firm Flaster Greenberg by an attorney who says she was fired shortly after moving to Pennsylvania from Chicago.

Court records at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania show that the case was marked as dismissed with prejudice after the parties reported they had reached a settlement in the matter.

The exact terms of the settlement were not included in last week’s filing.

In late December, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova granted the law firm’s request to dismiss plaintiff Taffie Jones’s negligent misrepresentation claim, although the judge left intact the woman’s claims of breach of implied contract and promissory estoppel/detrimental reliance.

As previously reported by the Pennsylvania Record, Jones was suing Flaster Greenberg over her Nov. 30, 2012, termination, which came a mere eight months after the law firm brought the plaintiff aboard to be trained as a patent attorney.

Jones had moved to Pennsylvania to work in Flaster Greenberg’s intellectual property department at its Philadelphia office.

She had previously been in private practice in Illinois.

The woman claims she was told if she accepted the position, she would be mentored and trained by a Flaster Greenberg lawyer, and that she accepted the job based on this promise.

Jones went on to allege that upon arrival, she didn’t get the training she was promised, but rather was “berated” and yelled at by the attorney who was supposed to train her.

Jones claims she was fired two weeks after making a hostile work environment report to human resources representatives.

In his previous ruling, Padova decided that Jones’s complaint plausibly alleges that the woman suffered a substantial hardship in order to begin her job with the law firm, thus creating an implied contract for a reasonable period of employment.

The firm had argued that picking up and moving to a new city to accept a job offer was not a sufficient hardship to overcome the “at-will presumption.”

At the time, the judge stated that he couldn’t consider, as part of his assessment, the portion of the law firm’s manual dealing with at-will employment policies since the manual was not referenced in the plaintiff’s complaint, and was not an exhibit in the case.

Padova had previously dismissed the negligent misrepresentation claim, determining that that claim was based on the fact that the promise made to Jones about bringing her aboard to train her as a patent attorney was a promise regarding actions that would take place in the future, rather than a promise concerning a “present, material fact.”

Flaster Greenberg managing shareholder and chief operating officer Peter R. Spirgel told the Legal Intelligencer newspaper that the firm would not be commenting on the exact terms of the settlement.

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