Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing McDonald's of racial discrimination

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Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing McDonald's of racial discrimination

A sign is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in Queens, New York, March 17, 2020. NOW REUTERS Andrew Kelly

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing McDonald's Corp of black discrimination for pricing Black franchise owners to underperforming stores.

In a decision on Tuesday, District Judge Harry Leinenweber said the plaintiffs did not show that McDonald's executives or managers treated non-Black owners differently from Black owner or when this could have happened.

The court does not mean to imply that McDonald’s operations have not been damaged by the brush of racism, but historical discrimination did not justify the lawsuit, the Chicago-based judge wrote.

James and Darrell Byrd, brothers with four McDonald's restaurants in Tennessee, accused the company of placing Black franchisees in economically undesirable inner-city locations with high security and insurance charges and below-average sales.

They also said that the Chicago-based fast-food chain denied white owners the same opportunity for growth and financial assistance that it offered Black owners.

Leinenweber said the Byrds could amend their complaint but dismissed their legal steering claims for good, because the statute of limitations had run out.

At the lawyer of Jim Ferraro on Wednesday, the Byrds will amend their complaint.

He also said McDonald's has dropped rents for many Black store owners since the suit was filed in October.

McDonald's did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. It has denied having to deal with other owners differently than Black owners and has pledged its commitment to diversity and inclusion repeatedly.

Ferraro has a similar lawsuit in Chicago on behalf of Black former franchisees pending. The two lawsuits sought damages that could reach $4 billion together.

The case is Byrd et al v McDonald's USA LLC et al, Northern District of Illinois, No. 20 -- 06447.

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