McDonald’s lawsuit alleges company racially discriminates against Black-owned media companies

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McDonald’s lawsuit overview:

  • Who: McDonald’s is being south by companies owned by Byron Allen, a Black comedian and media mogul.
  • Why: Allen alleges that McDonald’s discriminates against black-owned media companies by spending more advertising money with white-owned companies.
  • Where: The lawsuit was filed in a California federal court.

A $10 billion lawsuit that claims McDonald’s discriminates against Black-owned media can move forward, a California federal judge has ruled.

On Sept. 16, US District Judge Fernando M. Olguin published an order declining to dismiss the class action lawsuit filed by media mogul Byron Allen’s companies against McDonald’s Corp.

Allen, who owns Allen Media Group, Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. and Weather Group LLC., alleges that McDonald’s Corp. Racially discriminates against Black-owned media companies by spending significantly more money advertising with white-owned companies.

His companies allege that McDonald’s has refused to advertise on Entertainment Studios’ lifestyle networks, despite purchasing a significant amount of advertising on similar, white-owned networks.

The lawsuit states that Black-owned networks have been overlooked by the fast-food chain, even when their networks and programming have higher viewership than networks on which McDonald’s paid to advertise.

According to his lawsuit, in 2019, McDonald’s spent close to $1.6 billion in television advertising in the US, but less than $5 million of that was spent on Black-owned media.

McDonald’s filed motion to dismiss discrimination claims

McDonald’s filed a motion to dismiss the class action, arguing that Allen’s companies hadn’t identified appropriate comparators, and that it looked at ratings as well as viewership.

It said the two white-owned television channels the lawsuit held up for comparison were not similarly situated, from an advertiser’s perspective.

McDonald’s said other courts have found that ratings are just as relevant to the amount advertisers will pay as viewership.

However, Judge Olguin did not agree. He ruled that Allen had presented adequate facts to support a “plausible inference of intentional discrimination” by identifying a similar entity that received fairer treatment.

“Defendant cites no case in which a court has found, at the pleading stage or otherwise, that ratings determined whether an advertiser decided to enter into a contract, much less that any ratings difference rendered a comparator fatally deficient,” Judge Olguin said.

Judge Olguin said Allen’s companies had plausibly alleged intentional discrimination and claims under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, as well as violations of federal and California civil rights law.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $10 billion, fees, costs and a jury trial.

meanwhile, McDonald’s is asking a federal court to dismiss claims it uses harmful ‘forever chemicals’ in some of its grease-resistant packaging, including for its Big Mac.

What do you think of the claims in this McDonald’s discrimination class action lawsuit? Let us know in the comments!

Entertainment Studios Networks and Weather Group are represented by Louis R. Miller and David W. Schecter of Miller Barondess LLP.

the McDonald’s discrimination class action lawsuit is Entertainment Studios Network Inc. et al. v. McDonald’s USA LLC, Case No. 2:21-cv-04972, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

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