McDonald’s Corp. has filed a motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by more than 50 Black former franchisees who have accused the burger chain of purposely placing them in “crime-ridden” neighborhoods with underperforming sales.
In a motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Chicago-based chain called the suit “illogical” because “it suggests the company somehow has an interest in undermining its franchisees and seeing them fail.”
The company also said the suit was flawed because the plaintiffs did not present any evidence, calling their accusations “grounded almost entirely on speculation.”
“We take the allegations in this case very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “McDonald’s is a values-led organization committed to diversity and equitable opportunity, and the claims made by plaintiffs fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization.”
The company went on to say that it will defend against the lawsuit, which was filed nearly two months ago.
In the suit, the ex-franchisees said McDonald’s Corp. “steers” Black operators into “low-income and high-cost locations.”
They also maintain that the average annual sales of their stores were $2 million, more than $700,000 less than the McDonald’s national average of $2.7 million between 2011 and 2016, and $2.9 million in 2019, according to the suit.
Loretta Lynch, attorney for McDonald’s, said there are “legal deficiencies in the complaint that merit dismissal at this early stage in the court proceedings.”
“Plaintiffs’ case is based on the illogical theory that McDonald’s went into business with Black franchisees for the sole purpose of seeing them fail, despite the company’s obvious interest in franchisees maintaining successful and profitable restaurants,” Lynch said in a statement. “Should this case proceed, the facts will show that discrimination did not inhibit the plaintiffs’ success as franchisees.”
Earlier this year, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski hosted a worldwide summit where he unveiled refreshed company values aimed at fighting systemic racism and discrimination.
The reinvigorated values were inspired by the chain’s architects Ray Kroc and Fred Turner, and were released at a virtual convention attended by restaurant workers, franchisees, corporate leaders and suppliers from around the world.
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