McDonald's Restaurant Photo: Getty Images

Franchisee charges McDonald’s with ‘predatory’ racial discrimination, unfair competition

*Herb Washington, a former African-American franchise owner Oakland A’s star claims the company punished him for speaking out about McDonald’s ‘predatory, racially-biased steering practices’ against him and other minority Black franchisees

*This situation is the result of years of mismanagement by Mr. Washington, whose organisation has failed to meet many of our standards, replies McDonald’s

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

For unfair competition and racial discrimination, Herb Washington, a long-time McDonald’s franchise owner who is African-American, has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, charging that the company systematically kept him and other minority franchisees out of the more lucrative markets they sought.

Washington, a former Major League Baseball player for the Oakland A’s, claimed in his lawsuit that McDonald’s discriminated against him and other minority owners based on race, according to agency report.

Washington heads the largest black-owned franchise group in the United States (US).

At one time, report indicates that he owned 27 McDonald’s restaurants in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively.

The suit claims that, beginning in 2017, the company began a campaign to force him to sell.

The complaint alleged “in his four decades in the McDonald’s system, Mr. Washington has suffered deplorable treatment as compared with White franchisees.

“As but one example discussed below, McDonald’s purposefully steered Mr. Washington into stores in distressed, predominantly Black neighborhoods, which—as McDonald’s well knew—yield considerably less profit than stores in more affluent communities.”

The catalyst, Washington alleges, was his public complaints about McDonald’s policies, which he claimed was retaliation for speaking about the “predatory, racially-biased steering practices” against black franchisees.

Washington now owns 14 McDonald’s restaurants and said he was forced to sell seven stores over the last three years, according to report.

However, McDonald’s responded by accusing Washington of being a poor businessman and said most of his setbacks were his own doing.

The company in a statement said: “This situation is the result of years of mismanagement by Mr. Washington, whose organisation has failed to meet many of our standards on people, operations, guest satisfaction and reinvestment.

“His restaurants have a public record of these issues, including past health and sanitation concerns and some of the highest volumes of customer complaints in the country.”

Washington’s suit also blames former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook and current CEO Chris Kempczinski for allegedly fostering a hostile attitude toward Black franchisees.

He said the attitude spread throughout the organisation.

The suit asks the court to “declare that Defendants’ acts and conduct violate federal law” and to enter a judgment in Washington’s favour, but it did not specify a number when seeking damages.

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