Von Kaenel v. Armstrong Teasdale, LLP, No. 18-2850 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, an equity partner at the firm, filed suit alleging that the firm's mandatory requirement policy was in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The provision at issue in the law firm's partnership agreement required mandatory retirement at age 70.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the law firm, holding that plaintiff was not an employee of the firm and was therefore not covered by the ADEA. The court found that the undisputed record established that as an equity partner, plaintiff's compensation scheme -- which included sharing in the firm's profits and losses, his ability to vote on changes to the firm's policies or admission of new partners, the lack of supervision over his substantive work, the influence he had when requesting to lower his hourly rate for a client, and the limited ways in which he could be expelled from the firm -- simply did not bear a close relationship to that of an employee.