ALM Properties, Inc.
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Faced With Suit, Kelley Drye Drops Retirement Policy
Bowing to pressure from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Kelley Drye & Warren has dropped its mandatory retirement policy, the firm said yesterday. Chairman John M. Callagy said the firm amended its partnership agreement last month to allow equity partners to continue on past age 70. Senior partners will now be judged solely on performance, like other partners, he said. "We did it for various reasons," Mr. Callagy said. "It doesn't serve our business interests anymore. And the EEOC wanted us to do it. We told them we would do it, we told them before the lawsuit we would do it."
News of the decision, which had not been disclosed in the litigation, came just days after the firm responded to an age discrimination suit filed by the EEOC in January, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kelley Drye & Warren, 0655-cv-10. The suit was prompted by a complaint from Eugene T. D'Ablemont, a 79-year-old lawyer who had been a Kelley Drye equity partner. Under its previous system, Kelley Drye required partners to give up their equity interest at 70. They would then become "life partners," receiving annual payments, and those who continued to practice, like Mr. D'Ablemont, could also receive a bonus.
But the EEOC contended that Kelley Drye's system discriminated against partners 70 and older who kept working by paying them less. Mr. Callagy said yesterday partners may still retire and receive the life-partner payments. But as a result of keeping partners past 70 within the equity ranks, the bonus aspect would be eliminated. "To me it should solve the EEOC's problem," Mr. Callagy said. "For our business purposes, we don't need to have a retirement age."
It was unclear yesterday what effect the decision would have on the EEOC lawsuit. Jeffrey Burstein, a senior attorney at the EEOC in Newark, N.J., handling the case, declined to comment.