Two Dallas-based McDonald’s executives have filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of racism.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday in Chicago, where McDonald’s is headquartered.
The two plaintiffs are African-American senior officials Vicki Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal, who want a financial settlement after being demoted, which they say was the result of discrimination and an unfriendly work environment for fellow African-American executives and franchisees.
The lawsuit accuses McDonald’s of consistently not promoting black leaders within the company. It also states that the racism became more prevalent when former CEO Steve Easterbrook and other new executives joined the company in 2015.
A McDonald’s spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, “While we disagree with characterizations in the complaint, we are currently reviewing it and will respond to the complaint accordingly.” The representative also said 45 percent of the company’s corporate officers are minorities, in addition to all 10 U.S. field vice presidents.
According to the lawsuit, the amount of African-Americans in senior positions decreased to seven last year from 42 in 2014. The document states that concerns about the dwindling amount of high level African-American officials were expressed to Chris Kempczinski, the new CEO and former president of McDonald’s USA, in a meeting last year.
The news comes in light of Kempczinski’s efforts, who is in the midst of attempting a culture change within the company after Easterbrook revealed a consensual relationship with a McDonald’s employee in November and was ousted. The WSJ also reported that under Easterbrook, the company tolerated parties and late-night socialization among executives and employees.
In a memo to employees to kick off the new year, Kempczinski emphasized that the company was dedicated to creating opportunity, building community, and collaborating on solutions.