B.C. law firm’s mandatory retirement policy retired by court

Partner had little control and was more like an employee: Court
By Thomas Gorsky
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/24/2011

Once thought to be part of the Canadian social fabric, mandatory retirement has been under steady attack for many years. Recently, a British Columbia court took one more swipe at it by allowing a law firm partner to resist a directive to retire from practice.

Fasken Martineau, like many law firms and other professional practices, had a mandatory retirement policy for its partners. When John McCormick, a partner at Fasken’s Vancouver office, reached the age of 65, Fasken attempted to enforce this policy.

Although mandatory retirement is largely prohibited across Canada, Fasken believed its partnership retirement policy to be legal because McCormick was an “equity partner” — he held a percentage ownership interest in the firm — and, as such, could not be an employee. Under traditional partnership law, if a member of a partnership is a partner, then it is not legally possible to also be an employee.