NEW YORK, April 17 (Reuters) - The New York State Bar
Association is urging law firms to end mandatory retirement
policies in light of a recent settlement between Kelley Drye &
Warren and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in an age
NYSBA President Vincent Doyle said in a statement that he
was "heartened" by last week's settlement requiring Kelley Drye
to abandon a policy that the EEOC said forced partners who
reached the age of 70 to relinquish ownership in the firm and
reduced their pay to a discretionary bonus.
"Arbitrarily requiring a senior attorney to retire or assume
a lesser status in a law firm solely because of age is not an
acceptable policy," Doyle said.
Kelley Drye voluntarily dropped its mandatory retirement
policy after a partner at the firm, Eugene D'Ablemont, filed
suit in 2010, claiming violations of federal age discrimination
The April 10 settlement, which was filed in the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York, requires
the firm to pay D'Ablemont about $574,000 in back pay and a
percentage of fees for his services. It also obligates all
partners to attend a two-hour training session on age
Kelley Drye managing partner James Kirk declined to comment
on the NYBSA statement.
The issue of mandatory retirement policies at firms sparked
a lawsuit in 2005 against Sidley Austin brought by the EEOC on
behalf of 32 former equity partners claiming age discrimination.
The law firm, which denied wrongdoing, settled the case in 2007
for $27.5 million.
The same year, the American Bar Association passed a
resolution recommending that firms do away with mandatory
"The retirement policies of law firms should be governed by
flexibility and consideration of the needs of the firm and the
individual partner," Doyle said in Monday's statement.
(Reporting by Leigh Jones)
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