Jean Sorensen|Jul 5, 2011
An equity partner in a law firm can be considered an employee and therefore can go before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to get redress for alleged human rights violations, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal).
The case concerns Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP partner John Michael (Mitch) McCormick, who was asked to retire when he turned 65 on March 28, 2010. The retirement requirement is spelled out in an equity partnership agreement with the partner starting the transition when he or she reaches the age of 62. B.C. no longer has mandatory retirement at 65 and since McCormick wasn’t ready to retire, he took the unusual action of taking his firm to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal claiming age discrimination. The tribunal agreed to hear the case, accepting McCormick’s argument that being an employee extended beyond the common law definition.
Faskens asked the B.C. Supreme Court for a judicial review of the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear the case. It argued McCormick was not an employee but rather an equity partner and therefore fell outside the tribunal’s scope.