Workers Sue McDonald’s: Need to Get the Ghetto Out of the Store

Ten workers — nine African Americans and one Hispanic — have filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, charging that they were subject to rampant racial and sexual harassment, committed by the restaurants’highest-ranking supervisors.

The workers are being represented by Virginia Diamond of the firm Ashcraft & Gerel.


The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Danville, Virginia, alleged that supervisors at McDonald’s in South Boston and Clarksville, Virginia, operated by Soweva, demeaned African American workers, often complaining that 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 female employees on their legs and buttocks, sent female employees sexual pictures, and solicited sexual relations from female employees.

Soweva became the franchise operator for the South Boston and Clarksville, Virginia McDonald’s near the end of 2013.

At that time,the majority of the restaurants’ employees were African-American.

Soon after it became the franchise operator, Soweva implemented a plan to reduce the number of African-American employees and hire more white employees.

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 that it was “too dark” in the restaurants, and that they were going to hire different workers because they “need to get the ghetto out of the store.”

Before implementing the plan, one supervisor said to the other, “now we can get rid of the niggers and the Mexicans.”

The complaint alleges that a large number of white employees were hired in March 2014.

On May 2, 2014, about fifteen African-American employees were terminated, including a number of the plaintiffs.

When they asked why they were being terminated, Soweva’s owner told them that they were good workers, but they “didn’t fit the profile” of his organization.

Following the training instructions given by McDonald’s corporate, several of the plaintiffs called McDonald’s corporate to complain about their terminations and the blatant racial discrimination. According to the complaint, McDonald’s corporate “did nothing.”

In recent months, the general counsel’s office of the National Labor Relations Board has been moving to hold McDonald’s corporate responsible for the wrongful behavior of McDonald’s franchisees.

In July, for example, the NLRB general counsel said that if the parties cannot reach a settlement in a number of cases against franchisees “complaints will issue and McDonald’s USA LLC will be named as a joint employer respondent.”

The NLRB general counsel has had 181 cases involving McDonald’s filed since November 2012.

Of those cases, 68 were found to have no merit — 64 cases are currently pending investigation and 43 cases have been found to have merit.

In the 43 cases where complaint has been authorized, McDonald’s franchisees and/or McDonald’s, USA, LLC will be named as a respondent if parties are unable to reach settlement.

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