The EEOC and the law firm of Sidley Austin have reached a settlement under which Sidley Austin will pay $27.5 million dollars to settle claims of age discrimination brought by former partners of the law firm who claimed they were forced out because of their age. Sidley Austin's main defense was that the former partners were owners and, therefore, were not protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). But Sidley Austin conceded this argument in the consent decree, which stated: "Sidley agrees that each person for whom EEOC has sought relief in this matter was an employee within the meaning of the ADEA." The case was hotly contested and closely watched. Most of the disputes revolved around Sidley Austin's vigorous efforts to fight the EEOC's discovery requests, efforts which repeatedly failed. (For example, see our update of July 5, 2005.) As a result of the case, other law firms (and businesses that have similar owner/employee structures) are reconsidering mandatory retirement rules affecting owners/employees.