(UPDATED 5:25 p.m.)
A group of former and current 3M employees are alleging the Minnesota-based company has discriminated against employees older than 46 in performance evaluations and forced out older employees, according to a suit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Steven Sprenger of D.C.’s Sprenger & Lang, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, says 3M has shown a pattern of discrimination across all of the company’s business units. Sprenger says the case goes to the “value of older employees in the work place and combats the stereotype that when you get old you can’t perform as well.”
The lawyers for the plaintiffs contend 3M has discriminated against employees over age 46 in evaluations, training, promotion, and pay. Among other things, the complaint alleges 3M disfavored older employees for younger ones for its speciality training program. A 3M official was not immediately reached for comment this afternoon.
A state judge in Minnesota in April 2008 certified a class in an age discrimination case against 3M in which Sprenger & Lang is representing the plaintiffs. But last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed and remanded and ordered additional proceedings on class certification.
In the Minnesota case, Dorsey & Whitney is representing 3M. Thomas Tinkham, of counsel in the firm's trial group, argued the appellate case for 3M. Tinkham was not immediately reached this afternoon.
In the federal case, Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian in Oakland and the AARP Foundation Litigation is also representing the plaintiffs, which could become a class of more than 6,000 current and former 3M workers.
UPDATE (5:25 p.m.) 3M spokeswoman Jacqueline Berry says that although the company has not seen the federal lawsuit, which mirrors the state action, the claims are without merit. "Our management practice provides employees with equal opportunity throughout their careers," Berry says.