Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin has settled a former associate’s ADA lawsuit in arbitration, after she alleged that the firm failed to make accommodations for her fear of riding in an elevator and claustrophobia-related symptoms.
In an order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Erica Serine’s case with prejudice, after sending the case to arbitration two years ago.
Joseph Santarone of Marshall Dennehey, who represented the firm, confirmed Friday that the parties had resolved the matter, but said he could give no further details.
Serine’s lawyer, Anthony Valenti of McDowell Posternock Apell & Detrick in Moorestown, New Jersey, did not immediately return a call Friday. Serine, reached by phone Friday, declined to comment on the case or name her current employer. According to Pennsylvania Supreme Court records, she is an active lawyer in Marlton, New Jersey.
Serine sued Marshall Dennehey in August 2014, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, unlawful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The IIED claim was dismissed, but all of the other claims were allowed to proceed.
Serine worked in the firm’s insurance coverage and bad-faith litigation practice group, starting in the Moosic office as an associate in 2010.
Two years later she asked to be transferred to the firm’s offices in either Philadelphia or Cherry Hill, New Jersey, because her family wanted to live in Philadelphia, according to Schiller’s February 2015 opinion in the case.
Serine started work at the Philadelphia office Oct. 1, 2012.
“When Serine arrived at Marshall Dennehey’s Philadelphia office, she experienced anxiety, beginning with her elevator ride … and continuing throughout the workday,” Schiller had said. “She was unable to sleep or eat and obsessively researched evacuation plans for high building floors. She experienced extreme nervousness at work, particularly while riding the elevator or while away from a window. Although her symptoms ranged widely, Serine generally refers to her condition as ‘claustrophobia.’”
After consulting with her supervisor and the director of human resources, Serine worked from home while she underwent treatment with a psychologist, according to the opinion.
A short time later, the firm denied her request to work in the Doylestown, King of Prussia or Cherry Hill offices, but let her work from home for the next three months, the opinion said.
In December 2012, Serine received a “highly favorable performance review,” which noted her work hadn’t suffered due to her health issues. She also got a $5,000 raise, according to the opinion.
But her second request for transfer to one of the other area offices was denied, according to the opinion.
In January 2013, Serine was told she could work from home until Feb. 1, 2013, but that would be the end of her employment at the firm.
“Marshall Dennehey offered to continue her salary until March 1, 2013, contingent on Serine releasing the firm from liability stemming from the termination of her employment,” Schiller had said, noting she rejected the offer.