EEOC Settles With Law Firm Over Age Discrimination

The EEOC recently settled an age discrimination lawsuit with the law firm of Kelley, Drye & Warren over its policy of demoting equity partners once they turn age 70.  The case specifically involved one of the firm's former partners, Eugene D'Ablemont, who practiced in the labor and employment area.  D'Ablemont claimed that the firm's policy of forcing equity partners to become "life partners" at the age of 70 was illegal and violated the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, (ADEA).  D'Ablemont and the firm battled for ten years as to how much compensation the former partner was owed.  The legal issue at stake was whether D'Ablemont was an employee or a business owner under federal law.  The ADEA protects employees where the company employs more than 20 individuals, but not business owners.  In 2007, the EEOC brought suit against Sidley & Austin over 32 partners who lost their equity stake when they reached a certain age.  In this case, the parties reached a settlement and a consent decree was entered, requiring the law firm to pay D'Ablemont $574,000 for work he completed.  He will also collect 12% in fees from the date of the entry of the consent decree.  The EEOC has indicated that it is interested in this issue, making other large law firms targets if they have similar mandatory retirement policies.
Categories: Employment Law