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Law firm close to settlement in age discrimination suit

Partner and EEOC challenged Kelley Drye’s retirement policy

According to The Wall Street Journal, law firm Kelley Drye may be nearing a settlement in an age discrimination suit it has been battling for about two years.

The case centers on the New York law firm’s retirement policy, which mandates that when a lawyer turns 70, the firm “de-equitizes” him. In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought the suit on behalf of Eugene D’Ablemont, who was de-equitized because of his age, claiming the policy violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. D’Ablemont claimed the firm’s policy meant he made substantially less than he would have if he were allowed to stay on as equity partner.

These types of policies aren’t uncommon in large law firms. According to a 2007 survey by consulting firm Altman Weil, half of U.S. law firms with more than 50 lawyers had mandatory retirement policies. Firms claim the policies are in place to allow younger lawyers to move up in the ranks.

Neither Kelley Drye nor the EEOC provided comment to The Wall Street Journal on the article. D’Ablemont is still listed as a partner on Kelley Drye’s site.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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