Is McDonald's racist? Multi billion-dollar lawsuit by Black franchisee owners sparks 'BLM burger' jokes

The complaint accuses McDonald’s of a 'predatory' growth strategy. This reportedly includes steering Black franchisees to less profitable locations in Black communities with lower sales volumes and higher security costs

                            Is McDonald's racist? Multi billion-dollar lawsuit by Black franchisee owners sparks 'BLM burger' jokes
(Getty Images)

Popular fast-food chain McDonald’s has come under fire over alleged racism and treatment of its Black franchisees in retrospect. The Chicago-based giant faced a federal lawsuit alleging that the company has discriminated against Black franchisees. The allegations come from current operators, who are seeking to make the complaint a class action. The complaint was filed on October 29 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

The plaintiffs who accuse McDonald’s of racial discrimination, are reportedly two brothers who own McDonald’s franchises in Tennessee. One is James Byrd, a franchisee for 31 years who operates two restaurants of the fast-food chain and the other is Darrell Byrd, a franchisee for 22 years who operates two others.

A sign on a screen inside McDonalds telling customers they are open for takeaway orders only on March 20, 2020 in Brighton, England. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 10,000 lives and infecting almost 250,000. There have now been 3,269 diagnosed cases in the UK and 144 deaths.(Getty Imgaes)


Less financial support and growth for Black franchisees

Herald Review reported that the complaint alleges McDonald’s of a “predatory” growth strategy. This reportedly includes steering Black franchisees to less profitable locations in Black communities, with lower sales volumes and higher security costs. The complaint reportedly alleges McDonald's of excluding Black franchisees from financial support and growth opportunities that are offered to White franchisees. Herald Review reported that those practices, the suit claims, have caused the number of Black franchisees to reduce by half since its peak in 1998. Furthermore, the cash flow gap between White and Black franchisees have widened, the suit reportedly said.

McDonald's hamburgers and cheeseburgers are offered at McDonald's at Made In America Festival on September 2, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)

The Byrds have reportedly lost 10 restaurants due to the company's “misconduct,” the suit alleges. “This model pushes Black franchisees further into debt, allowing McDonald’s to deem Black franchisees ineligible for growth and/or renewal while offering White franchisees newer, safer, and more profitable locations,” the suit alleges.

‘Desire to go after McDonald's but fear looms

Herald Review reported that lawyer James Ferraro, who represents franchisees, said he received more than 50 calls from current franchisees. He reportedly said the brothers named as plaintiffs are “willing to put their necks and their livelihoods on the line” on behalf of the others. 

The present complaint asks the court to certify the suit as a class action on behalf of all current Black McDonald’s franchisees. This will provide an option to many other operators to participate if the court grants the request. Ferraro reportedly mentioned that 186 current Black franchisees own hundreds of restaurants and the present suit estimates damages at $4 million to $5 million per restaurant. Herald Review reported that McDonald didn’t immediately comment. However, in the past the company has denied such allegations, saying they “fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization.”

McDonalds restaurant (Getty Images)

This is not the first time that McDonald's is facing racial discrimination allegations. In September this year, 52 former franchisees accused McDonald's of racial bias. 
“The complaint alleged the fast-food giant intentionally placed Black franchise owners in economically depressed markets and set them up for failure,” The Washington Post reported. Since that complaint of September, McDonald’s has been on a “massive public relations campaign”. It is offering Black franchisees “various enticements” including rent relief, in exchange for promising not to sue McDonald’s, The Post quoted Ferraro as saying.

After repeated complaints, social media users slammed the restaurant chain with 'Black Lives Matter burger' jokes. One of them wrote, “Rumor has it that McDonald's is planning a ‘BLM Burger’ combo complete with collectible George Floyd glasses for Black History Month this February. Unconfirmed is the ‘Sweet Potato Soul Shake’.” A user said in a pun intended way, “Black franchisees at McDonald's file new discrimination lawsuit. A good place to get food poisoning.”

Another user said, “McDonalds we don’t love your supersized racism.McDonalds repair the harm caused to Black workers, communities, and franchise owners.” A user wrote, “Well looks here, the Black Ronald McDonald and the original Ronald's Grandpa. Orange clowns everywhere.” One wrote in favor of McDonald’s, “What? Minority owners from every demographic have been blessed by economic freedom in America. Do they expect McDonald's to pay them reparations?








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