McDonald’s has called on a judge to dismiss a lawsuit against a group of black ex-franchisees who accused the fast food group of putting them out of business by sentencing them to fail.
About 50 former franchisees alleged in the lawsuit that there had been an "exodus" of black franchisees from the McDonald's system for several years because the company relocated them in depressed areas with outdated facilities. They are seeking damages averaging $ 4 million to $ 5 million per point of sale.
McDonalds said at the time the allegations were unfounded, and on Friday the company – whose legal team includes Loretta Lynch, the former US attorney general – offered a fuller defense when it hit back with a trial.
"Plaintiffs' allegations are based almost entirely on speculation," information and belief "and final allegations," said McDonald's in its filing in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
McDonalds accused plaintiffs of "relying on vague anecdotes that did not specify who did what to them and when".
In their lawsuit filed in late August, the former black franchisees alleged that McDonald & # 39; s "steered" them into areas with high crime and high operating costs and not helped when they – unlike their white counterparts – encountered financial problems. They also said the company subjected them to higher standards through stricter inspections.
As a result of this treatment, the number of black franchisees in the system fell from around 400 in 1998 to fewer than 200, according to court cases. Restaurants operated by black franchisees reportedly had lower average annual sales than the rest of the system.
On Friday, McDonald & # 39; s said the plaintiffs' case lacked "concrete facts to support their expansionary claims."
"In essence, the plaintiffs claim they should have been more successful," said the company. "But no one is promised success, and the plaintiffs' struggles, although unfortunate, are simply no basis for a lawsuit against McDonald's."
McDonalds went on to argue that the former franchisees' claim was "illogical as it suggests that the company somehow has an interest in undermining its franchisees and seeing them fail".
In a media statement, McDonald & # 39; s added that it was defending itself against the lawsuit at the company "even as we take the necessary steps to promote an environment where equal opportunity is part of the lived experience".