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Kaenel v. Armstrong Teasdale, LLP

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 1, 2017

JOSEPH S. von KAENEL, Plaintiff,
v.
ARMSTRONG TEASDALE, LLP, Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. No. 8]. Plaintiff opposes the Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that this is an action brought pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623for age discrimination. The following facts are alleged:

         Plaintiff Joseph S. von Kaenel is a male resident of St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiff's date of birth is November 27, 1944.

         Defendant Armstrong Teasdale, LLP is a Missouri limited liability partnership doing business in St. Louis County with offices located at 7700 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, MO 63105.

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as an attorney from June 1, 1972, to December 31, 2014, and was an equity partner at the time of his termination. During his employment with Defendant, Plaintiff performed the duties of his job in a satisfactory manner. At all times relevant herein, Plaintiff was an employee, as defined by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 630(f), in that he was an individual employed by an employer, and is therefore entitled to the protections of that statute.

         At all times relevant herein, Defendant was an employer, as defined by the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 630(b), in that it was, and is, engaged in an industry affecting commerce and employed twenty (20) or more persons for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

         Defendant informed Plaintiff in, on, or about March 2014 that Plaintiff would not be allowed to remain employed with Defendant past December 31, 2014, because he would be turning seventy (70) years old that year. Defendant has a policy which requires that equity partners leave the firm at the end of the calendar year in which the equity partner turns seventy (70) years of age. As a result of this policy, Defendant instituted a program and has a practice of phasing out senior lawyers, which includes steering work away from them, reducing their contact with clients, and reducing their compensation.

         Between March 2014 and December 2014, at least one partner at the firm requested that Plaintiff be permitted to remain at the firm past December 31, 2014. Defendant denied that request.

         Plaintiff's last day at work with Defendant was December 31, 2014.

         Plaintiff was entitled to receive severance benefits for two years when he retired. When he was terminated, Plaintiff was eligible to receive the severance benefits. However, as a condition of receiving those benefits, Defendant required Plaintiff to cease the private practice of law. Plaintiff wished to continue practicing law and did so.

         Defendant terminated Plaintiff's severance benefits and failed and refused to pay Plaintiff severance benefits because Plaintiff continued to engage in the private practice of law.

         But for Defendant's discriminatory policy, Plaintiff would have retired at or around age 75 or later and would have ceased practicing law at that time and would ...


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