A former professional baseball player who owns a number of McDonald’s restaurants is suing the fast food giant for racial discrimination.
A civil lawsuit filed in federal court by one-time sprinter Herbert Washington, who played for Oakland Athletics in the mid-1970s, claims the company has shown more favorable treatment to white franchise owners – and prevented it from buying outlets in more affluent communities.
The 69-year-old claims that the firm’s discriminatory practices have led to a sales gap between black-owned franchises and those owned by whites in the amount of $ 700,000 (£ 505,000).
McDonald’s also denied the allegations about the situation of Mr. Washington blames “his years of mismanagement.”
According to the lawsuit, franchises in poorer areas cost more, have higher employee turnover and are not as profitable.
Court documents say: “By releasing black owners into the oldest stores in the toughest neighborhoods, McDonald’s has ensured that black franchisees will never achieve the level of success that white franchisees could expect.
“Black franchisees need to spend more to run their stores, while white franchisees need to realize the full benefits of their work.”
Following are similar claims by more than 50 former black McDonald’s franchise owners in a lawsuit filed against the company last September, saying they have been forced to sell about 200 stores in the last decade.
Mr Washington said he has been fighting the two-tier system since buying his first franchise in Rochester, New York, 40 years ago.
At one point he owned 27 restaurants, but now there are only 14-12 in Ohio and two in Pennsylvania.
He blames his difficulties with the company for causing it on behalf of other black McDonald’s owners.
Mr Washington said: “McDonald’s has targeted me to extinction. The bows are in retaliation against me to the fullest.”
He added: “It seems that, simply, in many cases, white restaurant owners have bigger restaurants than blacks.
“They are given opportunities for bigger restaurants, which puts them in a position to be more successful.
“Their cost of running these restaurants is much cheaper.
“As an example, I have a restaurant where I have to have insurance, okay? My colleague has a restaurant on the other side of town that doesn’t have to have insurance in it.”
Denying the allegations, McDonald’s said Mr Washington was “facing business challenges” and that the company had “invested significantly in his organization”, offering him “more opportunities over the years to address these issues”.
The company said in a statement: “This situation is the result of many years of poor management by Mr. Washington, whose organization has not met many of our standards on people, business, guest satisfaction and reinvestment.”
The former Michigan State track star occupies a unique place in the history of baseball, playing 105 games for the Oakland Athletics in 1974-75, but he never hit or went out on the field in gloves, but was used only as a runner.
Mr. Washington earned the championship ring after entering three World Series games for Athletics in a 1974 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.