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3M settles a second class-action lawsuit for age discrimination

The settlement would be 3M's second this year.

The settlement would be 3M's second this year.

3M, the Minnesota innovation company that brought you Scotch tape and the Post-it note -- not to mention a bunch of high-tech creations -- is getting a bad reputation among old people.

The Maplewood-based company is set to hand out a $3 million payment to end an age discrimination case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is 3M's second age discrimination settlement this year.

Today's settlement, which still needs approval from a judge, would end a class-action suit brought by 290 3M employees who said they were laid off just so the company could shed their salaries or denied promotions because of their age.

Aside from the cash, the settlement will force a couple of changes at 3M. The first, which might not mean much, is that employees will need to undergo training on how to avoid age discrimination. The second, more meaningful change would create a review system for firings and layoffs.

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The EEOC's investigation found a pattern of older employees being denied opportunities for advancement, including an internal e-mail that described then-CEO Jim McNerney's desire to

3M should've left itself a note: Be nice to the old people.

3M should've left itself a note: Be nice to the old people.

"[develop] 30 year olds with General Manager potential," according to the Star Tribune.

Presumably, when those 30-year-olds with general manager potential reached, say, 41, they would be put into nursing homes, or euthanized.

The internal e-mail continued, "[McNerney] wants us to tap into the youth as participants in the leadership development."

U.S. age discrimination statutes protect any employee over 40. In this case, 3M was accused of laying off or mistreating hundreds of 45-and-older employees between July 2003 and December 2006.

The previous class-action suit was brought by some 7,000 employees who alleged similar unfair advantages given to younger employees. In that settlement, 3M agreed to a $12 million payout.