“Get Rid of the N****rs”: McDonald’s Sued For Firing Black Employees

January 23, 2015  |  

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Ten former McDonald’s employees slapped the franchisee with a civil rights lawsuit claiming that supervisors from a Virginia-based McDonald’s conspired to fire them because the store had “too many black people,” The Guardian reported.

The ex-workers — nine Black and one Hispanic — also alleged that the supervisors made the following comments: “Need to get the ghetto out of the store”, and “Get rid of the n****rs and the Mexicans.”

The 10 plaintiffs accused the popular fast food restaurant of turning a blind eye to “rampant racial and sexual harassment,” Gawker said. McDonald’s, which operates on a franchise system, has long been able to escape taking responsibility for the actions of individual franchisees. But now, due to a new government ruling, McDonald’s might just have to bite the bullet for the indiscretions of its restaurants:

“McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators — a decision that, if upheld, would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide,” The New York Times wrote.

The group of litigants, according to the suit filed in a Virginia district court on Thursday, claimed:

“…These supervisors demeaned African-American workers; often complained there were  “too many black people in the store;” called African-American workers “bitch,” “ghetto,” and “ratchet;” called Hispanic workers “dirty Mexican;”  disciplined African American employees for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white employees; inappropriately touched by female employees on their legs and buttocks; sent female employees sexual pictures; and solicited sexual relations from female employees.”

The lawsuit noted that in 2013, Soweva — a franchise operator — took over South Boston and Clarksville restaurants, where the plaintiffs worked, at a time when the restaurants were predominantly Black:

“Soweva’s owner, Michael Simon, explained to workers that “the ratio was off in each of the stores,” and that he just wanted “the ratio to be equal.” Soweva’s supervisors were blunt, telling employees it was “too dark” in the restaurants, and that they were going to hire different workers…”

True to his word, the lawsuit alleges that a large number of White workers were hired in March of 2014 and about 15 Black workers were canned.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” said Willie Betts, one of the terminated workers. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile – until I saw everyone else that they fired as well.”

McDonald’s, according to The Guardian, will comment after it has seen the lawsuit.

“Employers like McDonald’s seek to avoid recognizing the rights of their employees by claiming that they are not really their employer, despite exercising control over crucial aspects of the employment relationship,” Julius Getman, a labor law professor at the University of Texas, told the NY Times. “McDonald’s should no longer be able to hide behind its franchisees.”

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