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82-year-old partner says Chicago company is forcing him to retire

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Gerald Webber has been an exclusive partner of Gould & Ratner for 52 years, and claims the company tried to fire him by cutting his salary.

(Reuters) – Gerald Webber, a partner at Chicago-based law firm Gold & Ratner, alleged in an Illinois state court lawsuit that the firm reduced his compensation in an attempt to force him to retire, and later retaliated against him.

Webber, 82, said the company he was a partner with for 52 years owed him about $300,000 after two years of illegal pay cuts, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court.

The lawsuit said the company does not have a mandatory retirement age, although according to the 2019 Gould & Ratner partnership agreement excerpted in the complaint, stock partners must “begin reducing their full-time role” no later than 75, and begin the business transfer. to younger lawyers.

The agreement states that the older partner’s compensation must be “simultaneously reduced” on the basis of a specific formula over a transition period of five to seven years.

According to the complaint, Weber does not fully intend to retire but has followed agreement protocol to delegate work. However, he claimed that the company continued to “eat its cake and eat it too” by cutting his salary while still requiring him to meet the billable hour requirements and the original requirements applicable to equity partners under 75. He claimed to have consistently met and exceeded these goals.

When Webber expressed his concerns, Gould & Ratner and his management committee doubled down on their position, preventing him from speaking to some clients and threatening him with dismissal, according to the complaint.

“The Company and Mr. Webber recently disagreed regarding the scope of Mr. Webber’s future role with the Company and compensation for that role,” Gold Wartner said in a statement provided by his attorney, Brian Sher, of Brian How’s Leighton Besner. . The statement called Weber’s allegations “incorrect.”

Timothy Hudson, attorney Tabet DeVito and Rothstein representing Webber, could not be reached for comment.

The case is Weber v. Gould & Ratner, Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, No. 2021-CH-05467.

Plaintiff: Timothy Hudson of Tabet DeVito & Rothstein

For the defendant: Brian Sher of Brian Howe, Leighton Pisner

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Chinko Osakoi

Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on mid-sized law firms. You can reach her at [email protected]

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2/ https://www.reuters.com/legal/transactional/82-year-old-partner-says-chicago-firm-is-forcing-him-retire-2021-10-29/

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