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N.Y. law firm ends partner age-limit policy in settlement with EEOC


NEW YORK—New York law firm Kelley Drye & Warren L.L.P. has agreed to end its policy of requiring partners to give up their equity in the firm once they reach 70 years of age, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday.

Under a settlement agreement, the law firm also agreed to pay $574,000 to a Kelley Drye attorney, Eugene T. D’Ablemont, according to the EEOC. Mr. D’Ablemont has continued to practice law full time at the firm since turning 70 in 2000, according to the EEOC.

The lawsuit filed by the EEOC on Mr. D’Ablemont’s behalf had charged that under Kelley Drye’s former policy, attorneys who wanted to continue to practice after reaching 70 could only do so by giving up all ownership interest in the firm and instead be compensated through discretionary bonuses.

“As Kelley Drye has recognized by its policy change, it simply does not make business sense to arbitrarily force out attorneys with the skill and energy to continue to practice law at a high level even though they are over 70 years old,” said Jeffrey Burstein, EEOC trial attorney in the agency’s New York office, in a statement. “I urge other law firms to assess their retirement policies.”

A Kelley Drye spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

In December, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled against a former partner at Holland & Knight L.L.C. who had filed an age discrimination suit, stating anti-discrimination protection extends only to employees, not to partners.