Two black executives are suing McDonald’s over "systematic" racism that may have cost dozens of people their jobs.
Vicki Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal are senior directors at the fast-food franchise in Dallas, Texas. The two were demoted from vice president positions in July 2018 as part of a company-wide re-organization under former CEO Steve Easterbrook.
Guster-Hines and Neal are suing McDonald’s alleging that under Easterbrook’s leadership, the company discriminated against black people by demoting or firing black employees and shifting business away from black advertisers, according to the Guardian. The suit also names CEO Chris Kempczinski and president of the franchise’s west-zone, Charles Strong.
"In shocking ways difficult to overstate, McDonald’s under Easterbrook and Kempczinski declared war against the African American community," Guster-Hines's and Neal’s lawsuit says.
Easterbrook took over McDonald’s in 2015 and was fired in November after an internal company investigation revealed he had an inappropriate consensual relationship with another employee.
The franchise cultivated "systematic but covert" racial discrimination and "conducted a ruthless purge" of top black employees, according to the lawsuit. The company cut the number of black people in high-ranking positions down from 42 in 2014 to seven in 2018.
The franchise defended itself and accused Guster-Hines and Neal of mischaracterizing the company’s record on race. McDonald’s asserted that 45% of its corporate officers are people of color, along with all of its field vice presidents.
"At McDonald’s, our actions are rooted in our belief that a diverse, vibrant, inclusive and respectful company makes us stronger," the company said. "While we disagree with characterizations in the complaint, we are currently reviewing it and will respond to the complaint accordingly."