Valley businessman sues McDonald’s, cites persistent racial bias

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More than 50 former Black McDonald’s franchise owners made similar claims in a lawsuit filed against the company in September

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP / WYTV) — The Black owner of 14 McDonald’s franchises in Ohio, including in the Valley, says one of the world’s largest restaurant chains has shown more favorable treatment to white owners and denied him the opportunity to buy restaurants in more affluent communities, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Youngstown.

The lawsuit filed by Herb Washington, a former college track star who played for parts of two seasons with the Oakland Athletics in the mid-1970s, said the Chicago-based company’s discriminatory practices have led to a $700,000 sales gap between Black-owned franchises and those owned by whites.

Washington owns 14 restaurants in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania but has been forced to sell off seven of his stores in the last three years.

“It’s bad for business. It’s bad for black consumers. They see what’s going on in McDonald’s. They see how we’re treated. America sees it,” Washington said.

The number of Black franchise owners has fallen from 377 in 1998 to 186 today, while the total number of stores has more than doubled to 40,000, the lawsuit said.

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

McDonald’s issued a statement on Tuesday denying Washington’s assertions. The company said Washington is “facing business challenges” for which the company has “invested significantly in his organization” while offering him ”multiple opportunities over several years to address these issues.”

“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 statement said.

Late Tuesday, Washington issues his own statement in response:

When confronted with their own racism, McDonald’s attacks the Black man for allegedly having “dirty stores.” How could I be an owner for 40 years if that were true? Rather than addressing my allegations, McDonald’s follows its racist playbook of retaliation.

Herb Washington

More than 50 former Black McDonald’s franchise owners made similar claims in a lawsuit filed against the company in September.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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