Friday, January 29, 2010

EEOC Sues New York Law Firm Kelley Drye & Warren For Alleged Age Discrimination

The New York Law Journal reports today that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has sued New York-based law firm Kelley Drye & Warren, claiming that the firm's compensation system discriminates against partners based on their age. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan on behalf of 79-year-old partner Eugene D'Ablemont and other allegedly "similarly situated" employees. The lawsuit alleges that the firm discriminated against D'Ablemont and other attorneys by forcing them to give up their equity stakes once they turned 70, therefore making them earn less than younger firm lawyers with similar collections and billings. D'Ablemont remains employed by the firm in its New York office. The EEOC claims that D'Ablemont routinely brought in more than $1 million in fees from clients, but in 2008 his annual bonus was reduced from $75,000 to $25,000. The lawsuit is similar to the suit the Chicago-based law firm Sidley Austin settled with the EEOC two years ago, in which the EEOC accused Sidley Austin of age discrimination against 32 partners. Most of those partners at issue in that case were in their 50s and 60s when they were demoted to "counsel" status in 1999. Prior to settling that case, Sidley Austin had claimed that the demotions were based on performance.