A lawsuit filed in an Illinois federal court on Jan. 7 by two African-American executives accuses McDonald’s Corporation of racial discrimination. The female plaintiffs say the Chicago-based fast-food giant nurtures a hostile work environment and denies its black employees promotions. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and claims that the discrimination has cost the two plaintiffs more than $2 million in lost pay and benefits.
The two women were both vice presidents when McDonald’s restructured its executive positions in 2018. The restructure led to both of the women being demoted. The company’s former CEO is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to racial slurs throughout their time at McDonald’s. One of them mentions that no action was taken when she reported such an incident in 2005.
The women say that their demotions were motivated by their support for actions taken by the National Black McDonald’s Owners Association. The BMOA has staged protests to draw attention to the significant decrease in the number of McDonald’s franchises owned by minorities. A McDonald’s representative responded to the lawsuit by saying that the company promotes a diverse workplace and does not tolerate discrimination. The representative also pointed out that 45% of the company’s corporate officers and at least 10 of its vice presidents are people of color.
Employers may be more willing to settle employment discrimination claims when workers who have been treated poorly can back up their allegations. This is why attorneys with employment law experience may advise those who have been subjected to harassment or discrimination in the workplace to gather as much evidence as they can. Evidence that could support a racial discrimination claim includes detailed records of when racial slurs were made along with the names of those present, copies of corporate documents or communications that include racially insensitive language and photographs of inappropriate items in the workplace.