Valley’s Washington to sue McDonald’s in civil rights claim

YOUNGSTOWN – Valley businessman Herb Washington says McDonald’s Corp. is trying to take his black-owned businesses and give them to white ownership.

So Washington says he’s taking the corporate giant to court in a civil rights action.

Washington said in a statement released to media that he is speaking out against unfair treatment of black store owners.

“One of the nation’s greatest African American business success stories is seeing his hard work dismantled … And McDonald’s is adding insult to injury by handing his stores to white owners.”

McDonald’s corporate spokesman could not be immediately reached.

Washington in the release is called a real American success story: He made headlines as a champion sprinter at Michigan State University, helped win a World Series for the Oakland A’s, and is in the record books for building the largest black-owned McDonald’s franchise operation in the United States.

But, 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, Washington claims. On Tuesday, Washington will bring a civil rights action to hold McDonald’s accountable for its racial discrimination and retaliation against him as a black franchisee.

A live, two-way video-based news conference at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday will announce a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway on behalf of Washington.

At his height, Washington ran 27 McDonald’s restaurants in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio during his 40 years with the company. 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 release notes.

Speakers will include Washington, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is invited, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Joseph C. Peiffer, managing partner, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway; and Kevin P. Conway, partner, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway.

A streaming version of the news event will be available later that same day at www.peifferwolf.com.

“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.

âWhat 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’ás profitability numbers to give the phony appearance of parity amongst black and white franchise owners.”

Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway maintains offices in Cleveland, Youngstown, St. Louis, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and New Orleans.


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