Ten former McDonald’s employees filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the fast food chain alleging racism and sexual harassment. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, states claims that the restaurant fired over 12 black workers because they “didn’t fit the profile,” according to USA Today.
The plaintiffs, nine African-American and one Hispanic, report that they were subjected to frequent racial and sexual harassment at the hands of supervisors of three of the companies establishments, all of which are run by franchisee Michael Simon who operates Soweva Co. Supervisors allegedly called black workers “ghetto” and “ratchet,” and referred to Hispanic workers as “dirty Mexican,” according to the lawsuit document. The suit also includes allegations of a supervisor physically touching the employees and sending them photos of his genitals.
The former employees say that they took their concerns to corporate, but the company failed to address the issues. USA Today reports that a McDonald’s spokeswoman, Lisa McComb, said “that the company had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its allegations.” The company did, however, release a statement regarding the matter: “McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values. McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.” Although many McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by franchisees, Gawker reveals the plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that the corporation still maintains significant control over the independent owners’ business.
“‘McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags, but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem'” said employee Pamela Marable, as reported on money.CNN.com. Willie Betts, another former employee said, “‘All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I didn’t ‘fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,'” according to USA Today. “‘I had no idea what they meant by the right profile, until I saw everyone else that they fired, as well.'”
The lawsuit comes at a time where McDonald’s is experiencing sales and stock decline. The alleged victims are being backed by the NAACP.