Professor Larry Ribstein posts here on his Ideoblog, an excerpt from one of his books that discusses a 7th Circuit decision of Judge Posner in connection with the EEOC’s claims against the Sidley Austin law firm–of course, prior to the very recent settlement of $27.5 million that was reached between the EEOC and Sidley Austin in connection with claims of age discrimination by 32 partners. The case discussed is: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, 315 F.3d 696 (7th Cir. 2002).
Judge Posner’s opinion, as discussed by Prof. Ribstein, addresses the issue of whether partners are considered employees for purposes of federal age discrimination law as opposed to state law. The issue is one that any partner in a large firm would be interested in reading about, because it addresses the realities of what it really means to carry the title "partner" in a large law firm setting. The title also has many variations such as equity partner and contract partner which will influence how the courts interpret that title in the context of claims made by–or against–those partners. Due to the settlement, however, some of those issues will not be definitively addressed, at least in the Sidley Austin case.