LAW FIRMS ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM ATTORNEY AGE DISCRIMINATION SUITS: THE EEOC GOES AFTER A FIRM
On January 28, 2010, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued New York firm Kelley Drye & Warren for age discrimination. The suit concerns the firm’s policy of purportedly requiring its partners to relinquish equity and management authority at age 70 and thereafter, to receive compensation only on an annual performance bonus basis. According to the Complaint, the annual performance bonuses are discretionary. The practices purportedly result in senior lawyers being undercompensated as compared to their more junior counterparts.
Among the relief sought, the EEOC is asking Kelley Drye to not only end the alleged discrimination, but to compensate the affected lawyers for the monies they lost and to provide equal employment opportunities for its employees who are 40 years old and older. The EEOC is demanding that Kelley Drye pay for the lawyers’ claimed pain, suffering and humiliation, and pay monies as punishment (so called “punitive damages”) for the purportedly offending behavior.