A few McDonald’s employees are suing the company, claiming that they were fired because of their race and that the company is attempting to avoid responsibility for discrimination and harassment. The lawsuit was filed in federal court last week.

About 10 African American employees of some McDonald’s restaurants in southern Virginia are claiming that they were fired last May after several Caucasian employees were hired. The restaurants at issue are all run by the same company, Soweva Co. The owner of Soweva told many of those fired that they did not fit the profile of the company he wanted to build.

According to the employees, the McDonald’s corporation controls virtually every detail of how each franchisee runs the restaurant. However, officials with the corporation allegedly did nothing when they were contacted about racial discrimination and termination of African American employees. McDonald’s responded that it hasn’t seen the lawsuit, but is committed to the fair treatment of all employees. The franchisee owner, who is African American himself, is denying the allegations and said that discrimination had nothing to do with the terminations.

The fired workers complained that before they were fired, restaurant supervisors would describe them as “ghetto,” and would complain that there were too many African American people in the restaurant. Some female employees also claim that they were inappropriately touched by a male supervisor, who offered better working conditions in exchange for sex. One manager claims that she was constantly abused before she was fired. She wound up being unemployed and fell behind on her bills.

There are currently over 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States and the vast majority of them are owned by franchisees. Recently, a federal agency designated the McDonald’s corporation as a “joint-employer,” along with franchisees. This means that the corporation can be held liable for wrongful employment actions taken by franchisees. Federal officials say that McDonald’s should be held liable since the company has such extreme influence over how the franchisees operate the restaurants. The McDonald’s corporation has vowed to fight that designation.

Under federal and state employment laws, racial discrimination is illegal. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against employment discrimination on the basis of race and color, as well as numerous other factors. Employment discrimination includes both harassment as well as discrimination. Title VII also prohibits job policies that would disproportionately exclude minorities, which are not job-related. For example, a company could not have a policy that requires employees to live in only certain zip codes if that policy is not needed for business purposes and excludes areas in which there are large groups of minorities.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act also prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment because of race, as well as many other factors. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your race, you are entitled to damages and may choose to bring cases under both federal and state law, or you may choose only one jurisdiction. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action based on a variety of factors related to your particular case.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no one should be discriminated in the workplace on the basis of race. Any employer who does discriminate based on race should be held legally responsible. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland racial discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. Micha Liberty works with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area and will be happy to learn more about your situation.

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