*The Black owner of 14 McDonald’s franchises in Ohio filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the restaurant chain, on accusations of discriminating against Black franchisees.
Retired Major League Baseball player Herbert Washington said that McDonald’s “steered” him and other Black owners into restaurants in poor Black neighborhoods, which yield less profit than stores in wealthier areas, and “pressured African American owners to sell to white people” after the company gave restaurants “unfair” assessments.
Washington was once the largest Black McDonald’s store owner in the US, with 27 franchises in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over a span of 40 years. Washington said that when he spoke up about the discrimination, “McDonald’s told him to sit down and be quiet,” the lawsuit said.
McDonald’s said in a statement that Washington is “facing business challenges” and that the company has offered him “multiple opportunities over several years to address these issues.” McDonald’s told Insider that “this situation is the result of years of mismanagement by Mr. Washington, whose organization has failed to meet many of our standards on people, operations, guest satisfaction and reinvestment.”
The lawsuit stated: “Black franchisees are pushed out of the McDonald’s system and those remaining continue to earn vastly less than white franchisees because of McDonald’s longstanding and demonstrable disparate treatment of Black franchisees.”
The complaint also said Black-owned McDonald’s stores average about $700,000 less in annual sales than white-owned stores. The number of Black McDonald’s franchisees in the US has dropped from 377 to 186 since 1998, it added.
At a press conference announcing the lawsuit, per CNBC, Washington said, “When I stood up for myself and other black franchisees, McDonald’s began to dismantle my life’s work. I didn’t quit on McDonald’s. McDonald’s quit on me.”
Watch Washington’s press conference below (he begins speaking at the 3:30 mark), and watch Washington’s interview with Roland Martin above.
This lawsuit is separate from the previously-reported complaint filed by 52 Black former McDonald’s franchisees in August who accused the fast-food giant of “systematic and covert racial discrimination.”
The franchisees said they were forced to shut or sell more than 200 McDonald’s locations and were denied the same opportunities as their white counterparts. They are seeking more than $1 billion in damages.