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You’d think they might have seen this one coming.

Employment law attorney Eugene D’Ablemont turned 70 years old in 2001. He was just as productive as ever, consistently bringing in more than $1 million in fees to Kelly Drye & Warren, the international law firm in which he is a partner.

Based in the firm’s New York office, D’Ablemont exclusively represents management in union contract negotiations and labor disputes. Now he’s using his decades of legal experience against management—that of his own firm.

Kelly Drye’s policy requires partners to relinquish their ownership interest at age 70, a sort of reverse birthday gift. Partners who elect to work past age 70 receive no regular compensation, only a bonus dispensed at the sole discretion of the firm’s bonus committee.

D’Ablemont soon saw his income fall to a fraction of what similarly productive, younger attorneys received. He complained internally, but to no avail.

Then D’Ablemont filed a complaint under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act—and found that his next bonus was even smaller than before, despite his consistent production. He filed a retaliation complaint with the EEOC.

Attempts at conciliation failed, and now the EEOC has filed age discrimination charges against the firm. D’Ablemont continues to work at Kelly Drye.

Note: Age-based retirement or other policies are likely to attract the EEOC’s attention. Employers that use age as a determining factor in compensation or other privileges and benefits of employment must demonstrate a sound business reason for doing so. The law favors individualized assessments of ability, not blanket policies.

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