The federal lawsuit from the 52 former black franchisees alleges that McDonald’s encouraged them to set up their operations in areas with lower sales and higher costs. This left them earning less and facing greater scrutiny from corporate higher-ups, the suit alleges. In all, the 52 former franchisees ran more than 200 eateries over the past 10 years, and are now seeking as high as US$1 billion in damages.
“McDonald's knew or should have known that these differential revenue and operating costs of Black-operated franchises as compared to White-operated franchises are not random or due to poor management,” according to the lawsuit. “These differences are statistically significant and are the result of the historical racial bias and barriers built into the McDonald's franchise system.”
McDonald’s denied the allegations, noting in a statement that “we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald's System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees.”