Media mogul Byron Allen is suing McDonald’s Corporation for $10 billion and a U.S. judge has ordered the franchise to appear in court. Allen is alleging that the restaurant chain has engaged in discrimination by deciding to not advertise with Black-owned media.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin in Los Angeles stated that Allen will have the opportunity to prove that McDonald’s violated both federal and California civil rights laws by classifying his networks weren’t eligible for most of its advertising dollars.
Allen also claimed that McDonald’s placed his Entertainment Studios Networks Inc and Weather Group LLC (which owns the Weather Channel) to an “African American tier.” That placement equated to a separate ad agency and less money for advertising, resulting in millions lost in annual revenue.
Entertainment Studios was formed in 2009 and consistently—but unsuccessfully—tried to acquire a contract from McDonald’s. “Taken together, and construed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to support an inference of intentional discrimination,” Olguin stated.
However, McDonald’s lawyer Loretta Lynch asserted that the Chicago-based company viewed the lawsuit as “about revenue, not race.” She also stated that the evidence would show that there was no discrimination.
“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,” she explained.
According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s discriminated against Entertainment Studios and Weather Group on purpose through a pattern of racial stereotyping and refusals to contract in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code § 51.5.