McDonald’s is shifting to dismiss a racial discrimination lawsuit by former franchisees

A customer moves into a McDonald’s restaurant.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

McDonald’s on Friday asked a judge to dismiss the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by former franchisees, arguing that every operator should thrive on its system.

The company also said the complaint from 52 black plaintiffs was based on “vague and conclusive allegations” and contained no workable allegations of willful racial discrimination, breach of contract and fraud.

McDonald’s also said the statute of limitations on such claims has expired based on when the operators left the franchise. The statute of limitations in Illinois, where the lawsuit was filed, for discrimination during a contract is only four years.

“Plaintiffs’ case rests on the illogical theory that McDonald’s did business with black franchisees to see them fail despite the company’s apparent interest in franchisees who run successful and profitable restaurants,” said Loretta Lynch, former Attorney General and current legal counsel for McDonald’s on the case, said in a statement.

In September, the former franchisees said the fast food giant had denied them the same opportunities as white operators and directed black franchisees to low-income areas where they had higher security and insurance costs and lower sales.

Plaintiffs say their losses averaged $ 4 million to $ 5 million per location after subtracting the cost of restaurants over the years of running from the lack of revenue.

McDonald’s said in a statement that it takes the allegations in the case very seriously.

“We will defend ourselves against this lawsuit even as we take the necessary steps to promote an environment in which equal opportunities for McDonald’s franchisees, suppliers and employees is part of the lived experience,” the company said.

A plaintiff representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

The lawsuit is at least the fourth filed against McDonald’s this year for racial discrimination. In January, two McDonald’s executives, Vicki Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit includes allegations that the chain fired the African American leadership and expelled black franchisees. McDonald’s has argued that the court should remove some allegations from the lawsuit, including those relating to black operators.

Restaurant workers in Illinois and Florida have filed two separate cases alleging racial harassment and retaliation.

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