Article originally written by Nicholas Malfitano and published by Penn Record on January 2, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA – The ex-office manager for a Philadelphia doctor’s office claims she was unlawfully terminated for requesting workers’ compensation benefits in response to a workplace injury she suffered last year.

Jazmin Serrano of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 24 versus Meeta D. Peer MD, P.C. also of Philadelphia.

According to the litigation, Serrano worked for the defendant as its office manager for nine months. On Oct. 10, 2017, Serrano slipped and fell while at work, suffering injuries to her lower back and left knee.

She allegedly appropriately reported her injury to Mr. Peer, the husband of defendant Dr. Meeta Peer, who was away at the time the work injury occurred. Per Serrano, Mr. Peer ignored her and did not allow her to seek medical care.

“When Dr. Peer returned on Oct. 15, 2017, she sent plaintiff to be examined by a physician at Rothman and also for physical therapy at Progressive Physical Therapy. Plaintiff again requested workers’ compensation benefits and was directed to use her personal insurance. On or about Oct. 30, 2017, plaintiff was presented with impressive co-pay bills for her treatment at Rothman. She presented the bills to defendant and asked that they be covered due to the fact that she was not provided with workers’ compensation information,” the lawsuit states.

“Following her initial report of injury, Mr. Peer began harassing plaintiff at work, chiding her for small things and making it difficult to perform her work. He sent her a memoranda chastising her for not performing work tasks that she was already performing. He then attempted to discipline plaintiff for going on a previously-approved and scheduled vacation. Following the vacation, he attempted to reprimand plaintiff for her attendance. Plaintiff kept all of her time cards which demonstrate exemplary attendance. Notably, plaintiff had no reprimands or disciplinary issues which predated her work injury.”

Following these events, the plaintiff, a salaried employee, was terminated on Dec. 27, 2017.

However, two days later on Dec. 29, Serrano claims she was offered to the opportunity to be rehired – on the conditions that her pay classification shifted to an hourly rate and that she be paid under the table, without tax information or insurance. Serrano declined, the suit says.

“Several weeks after plaintiff rejected defendant’s offer of illegal work and after plaintiff had consulted counsel, she received yet another letter from defendant. This letter brought up yet more unsubstantiated complaints which had never been made previously. It then reiterated that plaintiff was fired. Notably, plaintiff is aware that defendant has workers’ compensation patients in the practice. This is not a system that is unfamiliar to defendant,” the suit explains.

Serrano maintains she was never extended Workers’ Compensation benefits, despite her eligibility for them after her Oct. 10, 2017 workplace injury and subsequent numerous requests therein.

For a lone count of wrongful termination/wrongful discharge, the plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs, interest and other relief the Court may deem appropriate under the circumstances.

The plaintiff is represented by Erica Shikunov of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, in Philadelphia.

The defendant is represented by Tracy A. Walsh and Danielle S. Burke of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180903043

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com