*Looks like a group of former McDonald’s employees didn’t have it their way while they worked at the franchise. So their suing the restaurant for racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
But they’re also taking it a step further and actually naming the fast-food giant as a defendant in the suit.
The 10 plaintiffs — nine of whom are African-American, and one, Hispanic, claim that white employees were hired in their place after they were wrongfully fired last year. The plaintiffs say their managers at the various stores believed there had been “too many black people [working] in the store.” The lawsuit (viewable here) alleges that women were harassed and groped and that minorities were subjected to racist taunts. It also claims that managers referred to one restaurant as “the ghetto store.”
Generally, franchises are named as the defendant in a lawsuit of this nature, but here the plaintiffs are arguing that McDonald’s itself should be held accountable for the actions inside a franchised store. They say the company should be held accountable for damages because it sets the overall policies and has the power to enforce them.
“In order to maximize its profit, McDonald’s Corporate has control over nearly every aspect of its restaurants’ operations,” the lawsuit asserts. “Though nominally independent, franchised McDonald’s restaurants are predominantly controlled by McDonald’s.”
The NAACP and the group “Fight for $15,” which advocates on behalf of fast-food workers are both helping the plaintiffs with legal assistance. According to the suit, the plaintiffs had a combined 50 years working at McDonald’s restaurants, 25 of them accrued by a 53-year-old shift manager who lost her job in July. The rest of the workers lost their jobs in a mass termination in May.
As the South Boston (Virginia) News & Record reported at the time, a total of 17 workers were abruptly fired from three McDonald’s restaurants in the area. All three locations were run by Michael Simon, owner of Soweva, the company that franchised the stores. At the time, workers told the paper they were informed they “didn’t fit the profile” that the company was looking for in its restaurants.
“Most, though not all, of the terminated employees are African-American,” the paper noted. “Most of the workers who remain on the job at the local McDonald’s also are black. So, too, is [Soweva owner] Simon.”
Read more about this at Huffington Post, Black Voices.