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When Julia Sheeran, office manager at Philadelphia’s Kubert, Himmelstein & Associates, was called for jury duty in May, she upheld her civic obligation and reported to the court. However, according to Sheeran, Kubert Himmelstein was less than understanding about the time at work that she missed — and fired her. Wednesday, Sheeran filed suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against the firm and name partner Bernard L. Kubert, seeking punitive and compensatory damages of more than $200,000. In April, Sheeran, an employee of Kubert Himmelstein for 14 years, received a summons for jury duty on May 23 at common pleas court. According to the complaint filed by her attorney, Sidney L. Gold of Lovitz & Gold in Philadelphia, Sheeran informed Kubert, her boss, that she would be unable to report to work on that date. “Kubert instructed [Sheeran] not to perform jury duty and directed her to write a letter to the court misrepresenting that the office would be short-staffed if she were selected as a juror,” the complaint reads. Sheeran refused to follow Kubert’s instruction, telling him that such evasion of jury duty would be unlawful, the complaint reads. Sheeran, whose father is Common Pleas Judge Anthony DeFino and whose sister is recently elected Common Pleas Judge Rosemarie DeFino, reported to the court as scheduled on the 23rd. Sheeran was selected to serve on a jury from May 23 to May 25. After telling Kubert that she would be out of the office on May 24, Kubert allegedly threatened Sheeran, telling her that her job would be in jeopardy if she continued to report to the court. The plaintiff then reported to Judge John J. Chiovero, who was overseeing the trial that Sheeran was selected for, that Kubert had threatened her job security. However, she served out her obligation to the court and returned to work after the case concluded May 25. During the time Sheeran served on the jury, she returned to Kubert Himmelstein’s offices as her juror schedule allowed to complete any work that she could for the firm, the complaint says. The complaint alleges that while Sheeran was serving jury duty, Kubert began looking for a replacement for her. Sheeran was tipped off that Kubert was seeking someone to fill her job. Kubert allegedly made a firm offer for the position to a paralegal at another firm in mid-June. The potential hire refused the position, and Kubert continued his search for a replacement by immediately placing a classified ad in a local paper, the complaint says. In mid-July, Sheeran was fired from Kubert Himmelstein. At the time, Sheeran was earning $52,000 per year. “There is no evidence of deficiency of her work performance,” Gold said. After firing Sheeran, Kubert changed all of the locks at the firm’s office, the complaint states. Gold said that his client believes that Kubert’s and Kubert Himmelstein’s actions were in direct retaliation for her serving jury duty and therefore missing work. “Defendants’ actions in terminating the plaintiff’s employment were in violation of the well-recognizable public policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which precludes an employer from terminating employment in retaliation against an employee who serves on jury duty,” the complaint reads. The suit seeks damages for Sheeran’s emotional and psychological stress, discomfort and embarrassment, injury and pain and suffering, loss of earnings, the value of her employment benefits, and backpay and front pay.

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