Kelley Drye & Warren was sued Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for violating federal age discrimination law. The civil suit, which was filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan, claims Kelley Drye attorneys who practice law after turning 70 years of age “received dramatically reduced compensation compared to similarly productive younger attorneys solely because of their age.”
The EEOC filed the suit on behalf of 79-year-old attorney Eugene T. D’Ablemont, who has been with the firm for over 40 years. According to the suit, Kelley Drye requires all partners to give up their ownership interest in the firm at the age of 70. If an attorney continues to work, compensation consists of an annual “bonus” payment that is wholly within the discretion of the firm’s executive committee.
For D’Ablemont, the result has been a drastic cut in compensation since he turned 70 in 2001 despite a similar workload.
“A law firm’s compensation for its attorneys should be based on ability and productivity, not on age-based stereotypes about declining effectiveness,” said Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney in the EEOC’s New York office.
The EEOC is the government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace.