Is the widely reported discrimination lawsuit faced by McDonald’s really a clear-cut example of racial prejudice, or simply the case of a business owner releasing employees who didn’t quite make the grade?
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are claiming that racial discrimination is responsible for 17 employees being fired from their jobs last year in McDonald’s franchises in Virginia.
The workers claim that supervisors complained that “there were too many black people in the store,” and that they were “subjected to rampant racial and sexual harassment, committed by the restaurants’ highest-ranking supervisors.”
One employee, Alkeisha Lea, said she received the news from Mike Simon, the McDonald’s franchise owner in New Jersey. Lea said she learned that “the way he wants his company, I’m not a good fit. I don’t fit the profile. I asked him what the profile was, and he didn’t say.”
“He said you do a great job. But you’re not a fit for the organization.”
Lea, along with the other fired workers involved in the lawsuit, cite racial discrimination as the motivation behind the firings. And when nine of the employees released are African American, and one Hispanic, there does appear to be strong grounds for suspicion of racial prejudice.
“I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family.”
In the controversial discrimination lawsuit, the plaintiffs accuse their employer of firing black workers because the stores were “too dark.”
According to the South Boston (Virginia) News & Record, Katrina Stanfield, an ex-manager at the Centerville franchise, said she had previously been told by Simon, “‘You seem like a good asset to the company. I’d hate to lose you.’ He told me that. And yet he’s getting rid of us and getting in other people.”
Stanfield insists she received no warnings or reprimands, nor had she given her former employer any reason to fire her.
ICYMI: McDs wrkr Katrina Stanfield: “Being a good worker didn’t matter.I was fired for being black.” http://t.co/KnhjygXLzF #NotLovinRacism
— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) January 23, 2015
Taken at face value, the evidence appears to be very damaging. That is, at least, if one also disregards the fact that the franchise owner, Mike Simon, is also black. And so too are the employees that have remained with the company.
Indeed, McDonald’s franchise boss, Mike Simon, denies that race played any role whatsoever in the decision to terminate the employment of his staff.
“At my McDonald’s restaurants, inclusion and diversity are business imperatives. I continually strive to maintain an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. To protect the privacy of current and past employees, I’m not at liberty to discuss issues regarding employment or termination.
“However, my organization has a strict policy of prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment in hiring, termination or any other aspect of employment. As an independent franchisee, I believe in strong people practices and set my own employment policies to create and maintain exceptional service experiences for my customers.”
To add weight to Mr. Simon’s defense, it is reported that even though a total of 17 employees were released by the company, all remaining employees are also black. Indeed, if nine of the fired workers are African American and one Hispanic, there also remains seven white employees who have also lost their jobs, if reports are proved to be accurate.
Although definitive figures have yet to be released, do these facts actually raise the question if this is an employer being maliciously targeted by disgruntled employees that were simply removed from their posts due to performance issues? Rumors are already surfacing that the employees were dismissed after being found to be complicit in company theft.
Or is this discrimination lawsuit a cut-and-dried case of racial prejudice?