Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The American populace is aging.' At the same time, modern medicine enables Americans to remain productive members of the workforce for a longer period of time. The confluence of these two trends augurs increased use of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA), as companies try to force aging employees to retire despite their prolonged productivity. Another trend within the past decade has been the rise of various hybrid corporate forms that combine the beneficial aspects of partnerships and corporations, one example of which is the limited liability company ("LLC"). This increase in the number of different types of corporate entities presents many problems, including the application of statutes, like the ADEA, created long before the advent of the various corporate forms. Facing the same discrimination experienced by some of their peers in more traditional corporate entities, aggrieved aging members of LLCs will soon enter courtrooms to claim ADEA protection. While these complainants will argue they are employees for purposes of the ADEA, the companies will likely respond that the unique structure of the LLC makes the members de facto partners, or employers, with no standing to sue under the Act.

This Note attempts to give courts the tools necessary to address this approaching dilemma. The second Part of this Note describes the rise of the hybrid corporate form, paying particular attention to the structure of the LLC. In addition, it provides a background for discussing conflicting judicial attempts to define "employee" for purposes of the ADEA. Part III examines decisions affecting the standing of principals in different types of business organizations.