3M Agrees to Settle Age-Discrimination Suit for $12M

The company, which has not admitted any wrongdoing, has agreed to pay up to $12 million to settle a seven-year-old age-discrimination lawsuit.

3M Company on Friday announced that it has filed a joint motion for preliminary approval-through which it has agreed to pay up to $12 million to settle an age-discrimination lawsuit.

The class-action lawsuit, which was originally filed in Ramsey County District Court in 2004, accused the Maplewood-based company of instituting an employee review and promotion process that favored younger employees and discriminated against older workers.

The group claims that older employees were unjustly given lower performance scores “based on age stereotypes and known age preferences of corporate executives,” which led to discrimination in compensation, profit-sharing payouts, job placement, promotion, and training programs.

3M's employee review process allegedly had “an unjustifiable disparate impact on employees over the age of 45-that is, they are not manifestly related to job performance and do not significantly further an important business purpose.”

The suit alleges that 3M's actions violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and the affected class comprises more than 7,000 salaried employees in Minnesota over the age of 45.

According to the statement 3M issued on Friday, the proposed settlement is subject to approval by the court. Under the terms of the settlement, 3M agreed to pay up to $12 million to resolve all claims by the roughly 7,000-member class.

3M did not admit to any wrongdoing, and the company said its “human resources practices are fair, comply with federal and state laws, and are widely recognized as 'best in class.'”

“The proposed settlement agreement provides a reasonable resolution that allows the company to avoid ongoing investments in time and legal fees,” Marschall Smith, senior vice president of legal affairs, said in a statement. “We believe the resolution will allow the company and our employees to focus on growing our business and serving our customers.”

3M is Minnesota's fifth-largest public company based on its 2009 revenue, which totaled $23.1 billion. The company reported $26.7 billion in revenue in 2010.