Herb Washington to Sue McDonald’s for Civil Rights Violation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Longtime McDonald’s franchise owner Herb Washington plans to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Tuesday against the restaurant chain, alleging it has pressured him to sell his restaurants to White investors.

Washington’s law firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, will file a civil rights complaint against McDonald’s in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, according to a statement sent to media outlets Friday through The Hastings Group, a marketing agency in Virginia.

Washington, who is Black, ran 27 McDonald’s restaurants in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio during his 40 years with the company, according to the statement.  

“Though other lawsuits have been filed by Black McDonald’s franchise owners, Herb Washington is a national icon both in the McDonald’s world and in the bigger universe of America’s Black business success stories,” the statement said.  

A live two-way virtual news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Among those expected to speak are Washington; U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Peiffer Wolf managing partners Joseph Peiffer and Kevin Conway.

An invitation has been extended to civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson as well.

“As part of its effort to drive Black franchisees from its system, McDonald’s has targeted Washington and has pressured him to sell one store after another to White franchisees,” the statement said. 

Washington earned fame as a champion sprinter at Michigan State University and played for the Oakland A’s as a pinch runner, helping that team to a World Series championship. 

“If one of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the United States gets away with silencing someone with the track record and success of Herb Washington, what Black business leader can feel safe in speaking out about the mistreatment of African Americans in the business world?” the release states.

“What is particularly disturbing here is that McDonald’s stores that have been built up by Black owners in challenging neighborhoods are being stripped away from those Black owners and handed to White owners, all as part of a cynical exercise in manipulating the restaurant chain’s profitability numbers to give the phony appearance of parity amongst Black and White franchise owners,” the press advisory said. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.