3M Agrees to Pay $12 Million to Settle Discrimination Suit

3M Co. (MMM), the maker of products including Scotch tape and Post-it Notes, agreed to pay as much as $12 million to settle an age discrimination lawsuit.

Under the agreement, which is subject to approval by the Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, 3M will resolve the claims of about 7,000 members of the class represented by the lawsuit.

The proposed settlement “provides a reasonable resolution that allows the company to avoid ongoing investments in time and legal fees,” Marschall Smith, 3M general counsel, 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.”

The plaintiffs, all employed by 3M in Minnesota, claimed that the company systematically discriminated against workers over the age of 46 from 2001 to 2005. Management perceived older workers as “less able or willing to accept and apply new business methodologies adopted by the company,” according to the complaint.

The suit was first filed in 2004. In 2008, state court Judge Gregg Johnson granted class certification to the plaintiffs. 3M appealed his decision to the state Court of Appeals, which reversed it in April 2009. Because settlement talks were under way, Johnson postponed a second round of arguments about certification late last year.

The case is Clifford L. Whitaker, et. al. v. 3M Company, 62-C4-04-012239, Ramsey County District Court (Minnesota).

To contact the reporter on this story: Beth Hawkins in St. Paul, Minnesota at hawkins@visi.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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