40 years after the first racial discrimination allegations against McDonald’s came to light, the fast-food giant continues to be accused of race-related prejudice. Most recently, 52 former black franchisees filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, alleging that the company essentially operated a “two-tiered system” of black and white franchisees, where black franchisees were subtly pushed to fail by McDonald’s itself.
Among other allegations, the plaintiffs claim that they were fed misleading information about the sales projections at their restaurants, were stuck with poor locations in economically depressed areas, and did not receive the same financial support as their white counterparts. They were ultimately set up to fail and, as a result, received bad reviews in order to push them out of the McDonalds system.
These allegations are not new for McDonald’s
The black franchisees claim they have faced over 30 years of racial discrimination since they operated McDonald’s restaurants from 1988 to 2018. McDonald’s has faced such race discrimination allegations dating back to the early 1980s.
The recent case represents the third high-profile racial discrimination lawsuit filed against McDonald’s this year. In January, two African-American executives sued, citing racial discrimination as the reason for being passed over for promotions and for eventually being demoted. Earlier this summer, three black employees at a Florida McDonald’s also alleged a racist work environment in a federal civil rights lawsuit.
In the recent lawsuit, the franchisees claim:
· Unfair treatment in a two-tiered system that favored white franchisees over black franchisees
· High rent and operating costs guaranteed lower sales compared with locations owned by white franchisees.
· McDonald’s misled them regarding the restaurants’ profitability after steering them toward operating restaurants in dangerous areas that needed more security.
· They had to rebuild or renovate their restaurants in shorter amounts of time than white franchisee owners.
Each plaintiff seeks to recover $4 million to $5 million in damages for lost revenue as well as the debt they accumulated while operating their restaurants. McDonald’s denies the allegations, reiterating its long-term commitment to diversity and equal opportunity within the organization. However, the number of black franchisee operators at McDonald’s has recently plummeted to 186, shrinking by more than half since 1998.