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The Eighth Circuit Examines When Partners are Owners as Opposed to Employees Covered by the ADEA

Earlier this week, the Eighth Circuit affirmed a Missouri district court's decision in Von Kaenel v. Armstrong Teasdale, LLP. This case of first impression for the circuit court involved an equity partner at Armstrong Teasdale LLP, Joseph S. von Kaenel, who was forced out at age 70 at the conclusion of 2014. He alleged that but for the firm's mandatory retirement policy in the firm's partnership agreement, he would have retired at or around 75. He filed suit in federal court, where the central issue was whether he was an employee covered under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Eighth Circuit concluded that he was not an employee covered by the ADEA.

While this ruling is specific to law firms, all businesses using a partnership model, especially multitiered partnerships, should proceed with caution in applying this decision.

Read our Lawyers for the Profession® alert about the case to learn more.

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