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When Are Law Firm Partners Not Partners?

The issue of who is a “partner” and thus not an employee continues to vex professional firms.   Layers, doctors, dentists and other professionals often consider themselves non-employees, at least until they suffer an adverse workplace decision.  Then, they may choose to describe their situation as employees, not non-employee owners.  The distinction between employee and “partner” or owner status is a factual one.

A Court recently directed that limited discovery be conducted to explore where the line should be drawn for claims under Title VII and FLSA protection.  Campbell v. Chadbourne & Parke LLP, 16-cv-6832 (Oetken, J.).   Finding that titles are not determinative of “employee” status, the parties were directed to conduct limited discovery as to the long established “Clackamas” factors including:

  • whether the firm can “hire or fire the individual or set the rules and regulations of the individual’s work,”
  • whether the individual reports to someone “higher” in the firm,
  • whether the individual “is able to influence” the firm, and
  • whether “the individual shares in the profits, losses, and liabilities” of the firm.
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About this Author

Jeffrey M. Schlossberg, Employment Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law firm
Principal

Jeffrey M. Schlossberg is a Principal in the Long Island, New York, Office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Schlossberg has devoted his entire career to the employment law field.

Mr. Schlossberg has extensive experience in handling all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Areas of concentration include: employment discrimination prevention and litigation; workplace harassment policy development and compliance; social media and information privacy in the workplace; family and medical leave; disability matters; wage and...

631-247-4614
Allison E. Maue, Jackson Lewis, Lawyer, agency proceedings, mediations, arbitrations attorney
Of Counsel

Allison E. Maue is Of Counsel in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has over fourteen years of experience litigating and advising clients with respect to a variety of labor and employment matters. In addition to acting as lead counsel in all aspects of court and agency proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations, Ms. Maue advises clients regarding the development and implementation of effective employment policies, handbooks, procedures, and contracts. Ms. Maue has prepared and presented training programs on investigations, harassment, and non-discrimination, and has conducted and supervised internal investigations of employee misconduct, and recommended appropriate responses. Additionally, she has counseled clients through reductions in force and organizational changes. Ms. Maue also provides counsel regarding collective bargaining strategy and related labor union matters. 

631-247-4670