3M, the company that made Post-It Notes famous, has recently settled a discrimination case with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) for three million dollars. The company agreed to pay the sum to 290 employees who claimed they were victims of age discrimination from 2003-2006, when 3M laid off hundreds of employees older than age 45.
The class action suit claimed that 3M let many older, highly compensated employees go in an effort to develop “30 year-olds with management potential” as well as in an effort to cut costs. They directed leadership training to the younger workers, and internal emails perpetuated a company culture that valued youthful employees above seasoned veterans. For example, one internal memo stated that then CEO Jim McNerney wanted to “tap into the youth as participants in the leadership development.”
According to the settlement, 3M must do the following:
A representative for the EEOC, Michael Baldonado, explained the results of the settlement, saying “The law requires employers to base employment decisions upon each person’s strengths and talents instead of relying upon generalized assumptions calculated around an employee’s age.”
Even though 3M ended up agreeing to pay $3 million to former employees, the company maintains its innocence. They claim that they agreed to settle only to avoid further litigation costs, and a lawyer for the company continues to deny the allegations of the lawsuit.