Patterson Harkavy sues McDonald’s for race discrimination, sexual harassment

Patterson Harkavy filed suit today on behalf of a group of former McDonald’s employees who were fired after being told “there are too many black people in the store.”  The workers allege a widespread pattern of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment at three McDonald’s restaurants in Virginia.

The suit, filed by 10 former workers, alleges the company simultaneously fired over a dozen black workers who “didn’t fit the profile” desired at its restaurants. The highest-ranking managers had told workers that it was “too dark” in the restaurants and that they “need to get the ghetto out of the store.”  Black workers were referred to as “bitch,” “ghetto,” and “ratchet,” and were disciplined for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white workers. One supervisor routinely touched female workers on their legs and buttocks, discussed sexual activities with female workers, and offered better working conditions in exchange for sexual favors.

Narendra and Paul represent the ten plaintiffs, along with Virginia Diamond, a Virginia attorney with Ashcraft & Gerel.  The suit names as defendants McDonald’s Corp., McDonald’s USA, franchise owner Michael Simon, and Simon’s company, Soweva Co.   The complaint alleges that McDonald’s Corporation has control over “nearly every aspect of its restaurants’ operations,” and is therefore responsible for the harassment and discrimination workers faced. Several workers contacted McDonald’s Corporate to report the discrimination, but the company did nothing. The complaint charges that the McDonald’s Corporate representative who regularly inspected the stores learned of the terminations soon after they occurred on May 12, but took no action. And the company did nothing after a local paper reported on the firings.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.  Click here to view the complaint.