This retired baseball player built the largest Black-owned McDonald’s franchise operation. Now he’s suing the fast-food chain for its ‘racist’ policies.
Herb Washington’s lawsuit comes amid an exodus of Black owners from the world’s largest franchisor
By Tracy Jan, The Washington Post
Feb. 16, 2021
Herb Washington, a former Oakland Athletics player who built the country’s largest Black-owned McDonald’s franchise operation, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the fast-food giant of systemic racial discrimination for its pattern of steering Black owners into restaurants in impoverished neighborhoods that yielded less profit, targeting them with unequal assessments that made it harder to renew their contracts, then pressuring them to sell to White owners.
Washington, 69, owned 27 McDonald’s restaurants in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania during his four decades as a franchisee but alleged that the company began a campaign to drive him out in 2017 in retaliation for speaking about the “predatory, racially biased steering practices” against Black franchisees. Today he owns 14 McDonald’s restaurants, he said, having been forced to sell seven stores in the last three years alone to White owners.
“McDonald’s has targeted me for extinction," Washington said during a Zoom press conference from his home, appearing in a gray suit and black tie before a painting of Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston. “It took every ounce of me to succeed against the incredible and unfair odds that McDonald’s forced on me.”
Washington said he’s suing to end McDonald’s “two-tiered system where Black owner operators cannot be as successful as Whites. There is a system for them and one for people who look like me.” He said many Black franchisees left McDonald’s broke because of that system...