Age discrimination suit challenges de-equitization of partners

March 13, 2012 The issue of how law firms handle older lawyers who wish to keep working is becoming more acute as more lawyers challenge mandatory retirement policies.

An age discrimination suit brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against New York law firm Kelley Drye & Warren is currently examining the practice of stripping elderly partners of their equity status. The Commission brought the suit on behalf of Eugene D'Ablemont, a labor lawyer who claimed the firm's policy of "de-equitizing" partners at age 70 violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

After he was de-equitized, Mr. D'Ablemont received a pension and an annual bonus of between $25,000 and $75,000, an amount he claims to be between one-seventh and one-twentieth of what he would have earned as an equity partner.

The parties are due to participate in a settlement conference on Friday, and any settlement would leave unanswered the fundamental question of the legality of mandatory retirement policies.

Read more at online.wsj.com.

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