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Lawsuit Accuses McDonald’s of Driving Out Black Employees

Plus, the actual paleo diet included lots of carbs, and more news to start your day

McDonald’s sign
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

McDonald’s “declared war against the African American community”

Two senior executives of McDonald’s filed a lawsuit in Illinois on Tuesday, accusing McDonald’s Corp of getting rid of African Americans in senior leadership, driving out African American franchisees, and a “continuing pattern and practice of intentional race discrimination that should outrage everyone.” Victoria Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal also cited a “hostile and abusive work environment” at McDonald’s which included threats and derogatory comments.

Guster-Hines and Neal, both franchising executives, claim to have faced discrimination that includes demotion in what they claim was a purge of African Americans from senior ranks (McDonald’s “demoted or severed ties” with 31 out of 37 African American officers, according to the lawsuit), and having racist slurs used against them by other employees. They also allege former CEO Steve Easterbrook and current CEO Chris Kempczinski were “overtly hostile” to African Americans, and did not include them in diversity initiatives:

To reiterate this point, at a meeting of the National Black McDonald’s Operators’ Association (NBMOA) in 2016, and on other occasions, Easterbrook confirmed that “diversity” at McDonald’s meant “women”, specifically omitting persons of color. Kempczinski further reiterated this exclusion in April 2019 at a meeting requested by senior African American executives to discuss the lack of African American representation in upper management, when he stated point blank that the “numbers [of African Americans] don’t matter.”

The suit also alleges that under Easterbrook, McDonald’s lost both African-American customers and franchisees, and that this coincided with rebranding attempts to make McDonald’s look sleeker and more modern, implying that African American customers and employees did not fit that image.

Last year, McDonald’s fired Steve Easterbrook after he admitted to a consensual relationship with an employee, which violated company policy, and replaced him with Kempczinski, who had previously been McDonald’s president. In response to the suit, McDonald’s told Restaurant Business Online, “In the U.S. in particular, 45% of corporate officers are people of color and all U.S. field vice presidents are people of color. While we disagree with characterizations in the complaint, we are currently reviewing it and will respond accordingly.”

And in other news...

  • Speaking of McDonald’s, Impossible Foods is still down to clown, despite reports to the contrary. [Insider]
  • While the modern Paleo diet devotee insists cavemen didn’t eat lentils, research suggests actual Paleolithic humans were cooking and eating the grains of the Yellow Star flower and other starchy carbs. [Vice]
  • Making food for a revolution in Hong Kong. [NY Times]
  • The guy who started Moviefone is launching a new website about healthy food called [NY Post]
  • Kim Kardashian posted videos of her fridge to social media, and people are “freaking out.” She has a walk in fridge. She’s rich! What did you expect? [Twitter]
  • How the Local 338 bagel union fought off the mob. [Grub Street]
  • Tofurky is launching a burger, seemingly to compete with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. [The Spoon]
  • Grubhub is considering a sale amid more competition and a decrease in sales. [WSJ]
  • The almond milk industry is apparently awful for bees, which are used as pollinators in almond groves. Beekeepers say they’re exposed to pesticides, and industrial agricultural processes are working the bees to death. [The Guardian]
  • This kid loves plant-based protein: