Barry Melancon, AICPAThe American Institute of CPAs has urged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reject staff requests that accounting firm partners be classified as employees. In a letter to the EEOC, the AICPA says the classification of partners as employees under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act would disrupt the accounting profession and its business practices.

In the October 20 letter, AICPA CEO Barry Melancon wrote "We understand that the EEOC staff is currently investigating and considering litigation against accounting firms regarding the partner retirement provisions in their partnership agreements". Melancon argued that on July 25, 2013, an informal comment letter from the EEOC General Counsel's office concluded – after a similar investigation of another large accounting firm- that partners control their own work and own and control a portion of their firms.

Melancon's letter indicates the EEOC staff is investigating more than one firm. Melancon argued that the partnership model has worked well for decades and that when offered partnership status individuals can choose to remain employees. He did not point to specific examples of harm that the AICPA believe could stem from a reclassification.

Melancon wrote "in particular, retirement policy provisions allow for the predictable progression of lesser tenured, and often more diverse,individuals into the partnership, and facilitate the orderly transition of a firm's clients from senior partners to those who will succeed them."

Last modified on Thursday, 23 October 2014
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