Allen claims that McDonald’s generally refuses to advertise on Black-owned media networks.
A federal judge will allow African-American media mogul Byron Allen to pursue a $10 billion discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s, with Allen accusing the company of refusing to advertise with Black-owned media.
According to CNN, the federal court ruled last week that Allen and his company, the Allen Media Group, can try to prove in court that McDonald’s violates civil rights.
“Taken together, and construed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to support an inference of intentional discrimination,” U.S. Judge Fernando Olguin wrote in his decision.
In a press release, Allen noted that McDonald’s allocates only a small percentage of its overall media budget to Black-owned media—an estimated $5 million, out of $1.6 billion.
McDonald’s, says Byron, has “refused to advertise” on his networks, which include the Weather Channel and ComedyTV.
Allen also accuses McDonald’s of placing his networks in a so-called “African-American tier” that has a smaller advertising budget, thereby depriving his company of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue.
“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the US economy,” Allen said in a media statement. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity.”
Loretta Lynch, an attorney for McDonald’s, said that the company does not discriminate and that Allen’s claims are “meritless.”
“Their complaint is about revenue, not race, and 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,” said Lynch, who CNN notes is now in private practice with the law firm Paul Weiss.
However, CNN notes that McDonald’s recently pledged to increase its advertising with Black-owned companies from 2% to 5% by 2024.
The company, adds CNN, has a “troubled history” of lawsuits involving race—in 2021, for instance, McDonald’s settled a lawsuit filed by a Black franchise owner alleging that the restaurant chain steered him toward franchises in low-income, predominately African-American neighborhoods.
Nevertheless, McDonald’s has maintained that it treats its partners, employees, and guests equitably.
“Discrimination has no place at McDonald’s,” McDonald’s said in 2021. “While we were confident in the strength of our case, this resolution aligns with McDonald’s values and enables us to continue focusing on our commitments to the communities that we serve.”