Can a partner sue their firm as an employee?

May 6, 2010 A female partner at US firm Dickie McCamey & Chilcote is seeking permission to sue the firm in a potentially groundbreaking sex discrimination claim. Alyson Kirleis claims that despite her partnership status she qualifies as an ‘employee’ with the right to file claims against her employer. Kirleis argues that employee status is justified because higher ranking partners control her compensation, employment status and other conditions of her job.

If the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturns a lower court finding to decide that Kirleis can sue as an employee, she will advance the claims that Dickie McCamey pays female staff less than men. She also claims that male partners at the firm told her that a woman with children should give up her partnership, and that female lawyers serve only to prepare lawsuits for male partners who then handle those suits at trial.

The suit has already set precedent with a ruling that Kirleis’s partnership status did not require her settle her claims via arbitration.

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