Class Action Against 3M in Age Discrimination Case to Proceed

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (APRIL 15, 2008) Lawfuel — The Chief Judge of Ramsey County, Minnesota has ruled that an age discrimination suit filed by five 3M employees may proceed as a class action on behalf of about 6,000 Minnesota-based current and former 3M salaried employees over the age of 45.

The suit alleges that when James McNerney, currently CEO of Boeing, became CEO of 3M in 2001, he made clear his intent to favor young employees. Plaintiffs claim that Minnesota’s largest private sector employer has adhered to this policy and violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) in performance appraisal, training, promotion, pay and termination decisions that have systematically harmed older employees.
The suit’s focus on those types of decisions makes this case unusual, according to Susan Coler, a partner at Sprenger + Lang and one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “Almost all age discrimination class and collective actions have alleged discrimination in termination decisions, and the remainder of the cases have alleged discrimination in hiring,” she said. “3M’s overt statements about its preference for younger employees in decisions such as selections for leadership training and promotions led us to make challenges beyond discriminatory terminations.”
In addition to a court order requiring 3M to change business practices, the suit seeks millions of dollars in damages to compensate class members for the pay and benefits they should have received. The suit also seeks up to three times the economic losses suffered by class members, punitive damages to deter 3M from engaging in similar conduct in the future, and to send the message to other employers that age discrimination will not be tolerated.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers also are actively exploring a parallel suit on behalf of non-Minnesota employees. “3M’s practices and attitudes that we allege resulted in systemic discrimination in Minnesota applied across the country. We are developing a nationwide case to allow non-Minnesota salaried employees to recover as well,” said Thomas J. Henderson, another Sprenger + Lang partner and attorney for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs and the class are represented by the law firms of Sprenger & Lang, PLLC and by AARP Foundation Litigation. 3M workers who believe that they have been harmed by age discrimination or who have questions should contact [email protected] or (612) 486-1815.


Sprenger + Lang PLLC, with offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., has obtained some of the country’s largest gender, age, and race discrimination judgments on behalf of tens of thousands of discrimination victims. Sprenger & Lang has successfully represented classes of plaintiffs against companies such as Morgan Stanley, CBS, C.H. Robinson, New York Life, Northwest Airlines, First Union, Amtrak and Ceridian Corporation. The firm is featured in the book Class Action, which discusses a gender discrimination class action lawsuit that the firm successfully prosecuted for over ten years and inspired the recent feature film North Country. More information is available on the firm’s website,

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