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WASHINGTON-The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court award to an accounting firm partner who had sued for age discrimination.

The justices declined to review a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a jury award to a former Ernst & Young L.L.P. partner who claimed his layoff at age 52 was due to age discrimination.

By refusing to take up Ernst & Young L.L.P. vs. Simpson, the justices declined to consider the firm's argument that partners cannot be legally considered employees and therefore are not entitled to anti-discrimination protection granted employees under various federal laws.

Some courts have considered partners to be part-owners and therefore exempt from the protections, while others have deemed partners to be covered by anti-discrimination laws designed to protect employees.