McDonald’s has come under fire for alleged racial harassment in Virginia of employees at three stores.
On Thursday, ten former workers filed a lawsuit claiming their civil rights had been violated when they were fired after a supervisor announced that the store had too many black people working in it.
The lawsuit alleges that approximately 15 employees who were all African American were fired the same day last year in May after white employees had been hired during March.
When the employees asked why they had been fired, Michael Simon the franchise owner allegedly said they did not fit the profile.
Simon owns three McDonald’s franchises in Virginia. He declined to comment on the latest lawsuit, but when allegations surfaced in May in the local media, he said that there was a strict policy that prohibited any type of harassment or discrimination in hiring terminating or any other employment aspect.
Katrina Stanfield an ex-worker and the plaintiff in the lawsuit said she had been harassed regularly and remembered a supervisor that said, “it was too dark in here.”
After she was fired, she contacted the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s to report what he considered discrimination. However, she said she never heard back from them.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s said in Thursday that the lawsuit had not been seen by the company, but discrimination was completely inconsistent with McDonald’s values.
Don Thompson, the CEO of the company is one of just a handful of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who is African American.
Most of the locations of McDonald’s are owned by independent franchisees like Simon.
However, in this complaint lawyers for the plaintiff argue the corporation had control over much of the owner’s business.
Pre-approved suppliers must be used and employees must be sent to training that either the corporation carries out or is pre-approved by the corporation.
Legal experts said this case could add to the increasing pressure on corporate McDonald’s to accept more of the responsibility for what takes place at its franchises locations.