McDonald’s Faces $1 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit From Dozens Of Black Ex-Franchise OwnersHistorians in the News
tags: African American history, fast food, Black capitalism, McDonalds, Franchises
McDonald’s is being sued for up to $1 billion by dozens of Black former franchise owners who claim that the fast food giant systematically placed them in “substandard locations” that hinder profitability and growth, saddling them with high insurance costs and leaving their restaurants performing below the national norm, according to the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit is the latest turn in McDonalds’ controversial history within the Black community and Black franchise owners. In her book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America author and Georgetown professor Marcia Chatelain explores how fast food expanded economic opportunity within the Black community amid a backdrop of racial inequality, and the role McDonald’s played by franchising in communities it had previously overlooked and helped to create wealthy Black franchise owners that in turn empowered their communities. But that legacy becomes complex when considering the bigger impact that the company has left within those communities: “The low wages, the health disparities or the access to fresh food in communities of colour,” Chatelain told Marketplace in July. “Race has always been at the core of McDonald’s and its ability to expand,” Chatelain said. The effects of that legacy, and questions about the company's commitment to Black employees came to a head earlier this year when Black senior executives Vicki Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal named Easterbrook, President Charles Strong and Kempczinski in a lawsuit alleging that they were victims of racial discrimination and a hostile work environment “in both words and deeds.” The lawsuit also alleged that Black franchise owners were driven “out of the system in record numbers,” and that the firm stopped advertising to Black customers.