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United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
September 6, 2002, Argued ; October 24, 2002, Decided
[*698] POSNER, Circuit Judge. In 1999, Sidley & Austin (as it then was) demoted 32 of its equity partners to "counsel" or "senior counsel." The significance of these terms is unclear, but Sidley does not deny that they signify demotion and constitute adverse personnel action within the meaning of the antidiscrimination laws. The EEOC began an investigation to determine whether the demotions might have violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. After failing to obtain all the information it wanted without recourse to process, the Commission issued a subpoena duces tecum to the firm, seeking a variety of documentation bearing on two distinct areas of inquiry: coverage and discrimination. The reason for the inquiry about coverage is that ] the ADEA protects employees but not employers. E.g., Simpson v. Ernst & Young, 100 F.3d 436, 443 (6th Cir. 1996); [**2] see 29 U.S.C. §§ 623(a)(2), (a)(3), 630(f). To be able to establish that the firm had violated the ADEA, therefore, the Commission would have to show that the 32 partners were employees before their demotion.
Sidley provided most of the information sought in the subpoena that related to coverage (but no information relating to discrimination, though Sidley claims that the demotions were due to shortcomings in performance rather than to age), but not all. It contended that it had given the Commission enough information to show that before their demotion the 32 had been [*699] "real" partners and so there was no basis for the Commission to continue its investigation. The Commission applied to the district court for an order enforcing the subpoena. The court ordered the firm to comply in full, and the firm appeals. The order to comply was a final order appealable under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 because it terminated the judicial proceeding. The only relief sought was enforcement of the subpoena, and so when enforcement was ordered the EEOC had gotten everything it wanted. CFTC v. Collins, 997 F.2d 1230, 1232 (7th Cir. 1993); United States v. Construction Products Research, Inc., 73 F.3d 464, 469 (2d Cir. 1996). [**3]
The Commission also appears to be seeking information on whether Sidley may be forcing other partners whom the Commission suspects may also be employees within the meaning of the age discrimination law to retire on account of their age, contrary to the abolition of mandatory retirement by the age discrimination law. But the parties appear to have assumed that if the 32 are (as Sidley contends) employers, so are all of Sidley's other partners. So we need not consider the mandatory-retirement issue separately.
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315 F.3d 696 *; 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 22152 **; 90 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 145; 83 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P41,230
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Applicant-Appellee, v. SIDLEY AUSTIN BROWN & WOOD, Respondent-Appellant.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 01-C-9635. Joan Humphrey Lefkow, Judge.
EEOC v. Sidley & Austin, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2113, 88 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 64 (N.D. Ill. 2002).
Disposition: VACATED AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.
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