McDonald's sued by Black franchisee for discrimination, claims he was shut out of affluent locations

Former MLB player and college track star takes on the burger giant

A Black McDonald's franchisee alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday that the McDonald's Corporation discriminated against him by keeping his restaurants out of affluent areas.

Herbert Washington, who owns 14 McDonald's franchises, claims that the alleged discrimination has led to a $700,000 difference in sales between Black-owned franchises and White-owned franchises.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Washington claimed, “By relegating Black owners to the oldest stores in the toughest neighborhoods, McDonald’s ensured that Black franchisees would never achieve the levels of success that White franchisees could expect.”

The lawsuit was filed in Youngstown, Ohio, where Washington's franchises are located.

“Black franchisees must spend more to operate their stores while White franchisees get to realize the full benefit of their labors," the lawsuit said.

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FAST FOOD GIANTS RACE TO PERFECT THE DRIVE-THROUGH EXPERIENCE

McDonald's contends that "Washington is facing business challenges" and the company has "invested significantly in his organization and offered him multiple opportunities over several years to address these issues."

The giant burger chain told FOX Business in a statement that Washington's "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."

Washington's lawsuit comes after 52 Black former McDonald's franchisees sued the company for racial discrimination last year.

They alleged in the September lawsuit that McDonald's steered them to less profitable inner-city locations, required remodeling in a shorter amount of time than White franchisees, and graded Black-owned locations worse than White-owned restaurants.

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Black-owned franchises fell from 377 to 186 since 1996, but McDonald's says the overall representation for Black operators has remained the same as there has been a reduction in the number of franchises across all demographic groups.

Washington is a franchisee that not only provides diversity but notoriety. A former track star at Michigan State University, he played parts of two seasons with the Oakland A's in the mid-1970s as a base-stealing specialist. In 1974 he swiped 29 bases for the A's placing 7th among the league's leaders that season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.