Byron Allen’s discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s to move forward after judge denies dismissal

The suit charges that the fast-food giant refused to advertise on Allen’s digital outlets but readily did so on other white platforms.

Byron Allen’s discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s is moving forward after a federal judge shot down the fast-food giant’s request to dismiss the case. 

Allen Media Group divisions Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc. — parent owner of theGrio — and Weather Group, LLC filed a lawsuit accusing McDonald’s of racial discrimination, theGrio previously reported. The filing alleges that McDonald’s discriminated against Allen’s media entities by refusing contracts and exhibiting a pattern of racial stereotyping. Allen accuses the company of not advertising with Black-owned media outlets as much as it does with white-owned media.
Byron Allen / Getty

Despite McDonald’s having annual revenue of $100 billion, the lawsuit contends that the leading global food seller created an “African American” tier and gave smaller budgets and less-favorable pricing to Black media despite appealing to the general market. The suit charges that the fast-food giant refused to advertise on Allen’s digital outlets but readily did so on other white platforms.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin refused to dismiss Allen’s lawsuit, saying McDonald’s motion was denied “for improperly referencing materials outside the pleadings.”

McDonald’s has until Jan. 27 to respond to Allen’s complaint or refile its motion to dismiss, Chicago Business reports.

This April 30, 2019, file photo, shows a McDonald’s restaurant on the Northside of Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

“McDonald’s will refile its motion to dismiss by January 27 and continues to believe plaintiffs’ claims are meritless,” the company said in a statement. “This case is about revenue not race, and plaintiffs’ groundless allegations ignore McDonald’s legitimate business reasons for not investing more on their channels and the company’s collaboration with diverse-owned partners.”

Allen’s case was initially dismissed in December 2021, but he’s moving ahead with a third amended complaint, per the report.

“We look forward to presenting our enormous evidence in court, which will prove the systemic racism at McDonald’s,” Allen said in a statement. “And I firmly believe the board at McDonald’s should fire CEO Chris Kempczinski immediately.”

McDonald’s has a budget of $1.6 billion to spend on advertising. However, Black-owned sites only received $5 million, or 0.3% of these funds, according to the suit. This is a sum that is also dwarfed by the approximate $11 million salary of McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski. 

Byron Allen
Allen Media Group, headed by theGrio owner Byron Allen (Photo: Michele Thomas)

“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the U.S. economy,” said Allen in a June 2021 interview with Marc Lamont Hill on Black News Tonight. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity. The economic exclusion must stop immediately.”

In December, Allen sent an open letter to McDonald’s Board of Directors calling for the resignation of Kempczinski, theGrio reported. In his letter, Allen demands McDonald’s end its racial discrimination and notes that, despite public pressure to do so, racist behavior continues to persist at the company.

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