- McDonald’s faces a lawsuit from Byron Allen over its advertising spend with Black-owned media.
- He can try to prove in court that McDonald’s violated civil rights laws, court documents show.
- The media mogul said: “The economic exclusion must stop immediately.”
McDonald’s is facing a $10 billion lawsuit from media mogul Byron Allen, who has accused the fast food giant of failing to advertise with Black-owned media.
Allen and his company, Allen Media Group, will argue in court that McDonald’s violated civil rights laws after a federal court judge found that oral argument was not enough to resolve the case, court documents show.
Allen claimed that McDonald’s spends just $5 million of its $1.6 billion annual advertising budget on African American-owned media, and has “refused to advertise” on his networks, which include the Weather Channel and Comedy.TV, per the lawsuit.
The media mogul accuses McDonald’s of relegating his TV networks to an “African-American tier” that has a smaller budget.
In a press release on Thursday, Allen said: “This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the US economy. McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity.”
“The economic exclusion must stop immediately,” he added.
Loretta Lynch at law firm Paul Weiss, which is acting for McDonald’s, told CNN that Allen’s claims were “meritless.”
“Their complaint is about revenue, not race, and plaintiffs’ groundless allegations ignore both McDonald’s legitimate business reasons for not investing more on their channels and the company’s long-standing business relationships with many other diverse-owned partners,” said Lynch, who was President Obama’s attorney-general.
McDonald’s didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Allen’s legal counsel, David Schecter and Skip Miller, said: “As alleged in our complaint, McDonald’s has engaged in pernicious racial discrimination in violation of federal and state law. We are confident the jury will recognize the injustice that has occurred here and will award significant damages. We are looking forward to our day in court.”
The case is due to be heard in May 2023.
In 2021, the Black owner of 14 McDonald’s franchises in Ohio filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain, accusing it of discriminating against Black franchisees. Before that, another complaint filed by 52 Black former McDonald’s franchisees in 2020 accused the fast-food giant of “systematic and covert racial discrimination.”
McDonald’s announced last year that it will increase advertising with Black-owned companies from 2% to 5% of its total budget by 2024.
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