PriceWaterhouse is the focus of an EEOC drive to abolish mandatory retirement policies.  PriceWaterhouse’s policy requires the retirement of partners who are 60 years of age. The EEOC contends that this policy is a form of age discrimination. The EEOC has not yet filed suit but has also notified Deloitte and KPMG, other large accounting firms with similar policies, that they are discriminatory. 

The mandatory retirement policies apply only to partners, not employees. Thus, the accounting firms contend the policies are not illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Should the EEOC further pursue these policies, the question will be whether the partners could also be considered employees.

The EEOC will be looking at: whether the firm can hire or fire the person; whether and to what extent the firm supervises the person’s work; whether the person reports to a higher up at the firm; whether and to what extent the person can influence the firm; whether the firm intended the person to be an employee as expressed in writing; and whether the person shares in the firm’s profits, losses and liabilities. The essential question according to the EEOC may be how much control the individual has and the difference between him or her and someone who is not a partner. There does not appear to be an exhaustive list of factors upon which the EEOC will base its decision.