Two Black executives file lawsuit against McDonald’s alleging racial discrimination

They claim the company purposefully restructured in order to 'purge' African-Americans from senior executive titles

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Two Black McDonald’s executives have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago-based, fast food chain claiming they were discriminated against and passed over for promotions.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Chicago federal court by Victoria Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal, both of whom work out of the company’s Dallas office, claim they were passed over for raises, threatened, and subjected to racial slurs and an overall “hostile and abusive work environment,” according to The Chicago Tribune.

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The suit alleges that McDonald’s demoted Guster-Hines and Neal in July 2018 from positions of vice president to senior director positions when the company restructured under its former CEO, Steve Easterbrook. What the restructuring essentially did, according to the lawsuit, was “purge” African Americans from senior executive titles.

Easterbrook, who was fired late last year after he admitted to having a consensual relationship with an employee, is named in the lawsuit as a defendant, as well as current CEO Chris Kempczinski and Charles Strong, the west-zone president for McDonald’s.

“In shocking ways difficult to overstate, McDonald’s under Easterbrook and Kempczinski declared war against the African American community,” the lawsuit said, reported The Chicago Tribune.

In a statement, McDonald’s disputes “characterizations” in the lawsuit and said it is reviewing it for further comment.

“At McDonald’s, our actions are rooted in our belief that a diverse, vibrant, inclusive and respectful company makes us stronger,” the company statement read, according to The Tribune. “While we disagree with characterizations in the complaint, we are currently reviewing it and will respond to the complaint accordingly.”

In the statement, McDonalds also pointed out that 45% of its corporate officers and all 10 of its field vice presidents are people of color, according to The Tribune.

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Carmen Caruso, the attorney representing Guster-Hines and Neal, said both employees have taken a leave of absence from McDonald’s and have filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit alleges the employees were subjected to years of racial discrimination and seeks undisclosed monetary damages, however, it specifically notes over $2 million in lost pay and benefits for Guster-Hines and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for Neal.

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