Partner not an employee: B.C. court

Law firm partner claimed firm discriminated against him based on age
By Arthur Zeilikman
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/25/2012

In a unanimous decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled a partner is not an employee for the purposes of the province’s Human Rights Code.

John Michael McCormick began his legal career at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin (now Fasken Martineau) in 1970 and became an equity partner in 1979. He turned 65 in March 2010 and, following a partnership agreement to which all lawyers were subject, was due to retire on Jan. 31, 2011, the financial year-end of the firm.

As an equity partner, McCormick had an ownership interest in the firm, a share in the profits of the firm and was entitled to a distributive share of the assets of the firm on its dissolution. Where firm debts were not insured, he was personally liable pursuant to the firm’s partnership agreement and the B.C. Partnership Act. McCormick was also entitled to various management privileges, none of which were available to firm employees.