A former Flaster Greenberg associate has sued the firm, alleging 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 the complaint filed in Jones v. Flaster Greenberg in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday, Taffie Jones, a former associate in the intellectual property practice of Flaster Greenberg’s Philadelphia office, said that when she was offered a job with the firm early last year, she was promised that she would be mentored by shareholder and IP department chair Lynda L. Calderone.
But Jones alleges in the complaint that, soon after she began her employment with Flaster Greenberg, the work environment became hostile, largely due to Calderone’s treatment of her.
"Attorney Calderone would regularly berate, insult, use profanities and yell at plaintiff," the complaint alleges. "Additionally, on one occasion she even physically prevented plaintiff from leaving a conference room until she was finished berating her."
Jones alleges in the complaint 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.
"Attorney Calderone would also often fail to provide plaintiff with the necessary information for her to properly conduct and complete her work," the complaint alleges.
Jones claims in the complaint that she made several fruitless attempts to address these issues with Calderone and other shareholders, as well as the firm’s human resources director.
On November 2, 2012, according to the complaint, Jones received a performance review "which was largely positive and encouraging."
But on November 9, 2012, the complaint said, Jones made a formal complaint to the firm’s human resources department about the hostile work environment.
On November 30, 2012, eight months after joining the firm, Jones was fired based on her "’performance,’" according to the complaint.
"As a result of her termination, plaintiff is without a job in Pennsylvania, a state in which she is not licensed to practice, thereby substantially reducing her marketability," the complaint said.
Jones is now alleging breach of implied contract of employment, promissory estoppel and negligent misrepresentation, according to the complaint.
Jones alleges in the complaint that she has "incurred a loss of income and severe financial hardship" along with "an impairment of her professional reputation."
According to the complaint, Jones had been a solo attorney in Chicago when she was contacted by a recruiter on behalf of Flaster Greenberg in January 2012.
At the time, according to the complaint, Jones was not looking to join a new firm and had no intention of moving from Illinois.
Jones said in the complaint that she accepted the position largely based on the firm’s promise that she would be mentored and trained by senior attorneys and shareholders.
According to the complaint, Jones "wanted to obtain training and experience as a patent attorney."
"Plaintiff moved 765 miles from her home in Illinois, closed her established law practice and left behind all of her family and friends in order to work as an associate attorney for defendant in Philadelphia," the complaint said, adding that because Jones does not have a license to practice in Pennsylvania, she "will be required to study, apply to and take the Pennsylvania bar examination in order to remain and practice in Pennsylvania."
Flaster Greenberg managing shareholder Peter R. Spirgel said the suit is "entirely without merit."
Calderone did not return a call seeking comment.
Jones’ attorney, Edith A. Pearce of the Pearce Law Firm in Philadelphia, also did not return a call seeking comment.