A federal judge in northern Illinois has dismissed a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by African-American franchisees of McDonald’s, accusing McDonald’s of directing them to underperforming stores.
United States District Court Judge Harry D. Leinenweber ruled that the plaintiff black franchisees failed to provide specific facts to support their legal claims. The court also found that although there had been discriminatory practices, the claims exceeded the two-year limitation period, since the last acquisition by either plaintiff was in 2012.
Two brothers, James Byrd Jr. and Darrell Byrd, who have been franchisees of McDonald’s for several decades, have filed a lawsuit seeking class action status.
The judge said the complaint failed to link any alleged discriminatory conduct by McDonald’s directors and executives to the discrimination suffered by the complainants or any alleged member of the group. The complainants did not even allege that the complainants or any alleged member of the group were subject to any of these alleged discriminatory policies.
The main alleged complaint was that “McDonald’s growth strategy has been predatory in nature, targeting black consumers, markets and territories by directing black franchisees to black neighborhoods with high overhead costs – including security, higher insurance and employee turnover – where white franchisees refused to own and operate restaurants.
This allegedly discriminatory practice has reduced the number of black franchisees and increased the income disparity between black and white franchisees, according to the complaint.
The complaint argued that “[t]These differences are statistically significant and are the result of historical racial biases and barriers built into the McDonald’s franchise system.
McDonald’s called for the complaint to be dismissed, saying the plaintiffs had not alleged intentional and causal discrimination “but for”. McDonald’s also argued that the matters complained of are all prescribed by the statute of limitations.
The plaintiffs replied that their complaint sets out a pattern and practice of McDonald’s that have occurred throughout its franchise terms and that it therefore qualifies for the “continuing violation” exception to the limitation period defense. .
But the district court disagreed, noting that the Supreme Court ruled that “quiet acts” such as dismissal, failure to promote, denial of transfer or denial of employment are “easy to do. identify ”and do not constitute continuing violations but are claims that“ can and should be made in a timely manner ”.
The court concluded that the allegation that McDonald’s was directing black franchisees to economically undesirable locations is “clearly pre-contractual conduct and subject to the two-year limitation period.”
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