After George Floyd’s death while in police custody, McDonald’s issued a silent tribute video that said Floyd “was one of us,” as were other victims of racial violence. The world’s largest fast food chain said it saw those victims in its customers, in its employees and in its franchisees, too.
A group of 52 Black former franchise owners has issued a scathing rebuttal in the form of a billion-dollar lawsuit alleging that systematic racial discrimination by the company placed their restaurants in “substandard locations” that limited revenues and drove up costs.
The group says the locations left their franchises performing hundreds of thousands of dollars below the company’s national average, often forcing Black franchisees into bankruptcy.
Earlier this year, two senior executives filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company, charging that under former CEO Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s “became overtly hostile to African Americans.” Their lawsuit claims the company fired and demoted Black executives and pushed out Black franchisees.
Their lawsuit also states that nearly a third of Black franchise owners left the company while Easterbrook was in charge between 2015 and 2019.
Three months ago, new CEO Chris Kempczinski conceded that McDonald’s needed to do more to improve racial diversity, though he also claimed it had helped more members of the Black community become millionaires than any other company.
In a statement to Forbes, McDonald’s said it “categorically” denies the allegations in the most recent suit, and that “the facts will show how committed we are to . . . diversity and equal opportunity.”
No matter how big or how small a company might be, it is forbidden by federal and Wisconsin law from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. If you’ve been subjected to illegal workplace discrimination, contact the Milwaukee law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates.