1998 McDonald’s Discrimination Lawsuit Retried in Cleveland

    Industry News | June 24, 2005

    A discrimination lawsuit against Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's Corp., filed in 1998 by a former restaurant manager infected with the HIV virus, is being retried in court in Cleveland. Russell Rich, 41, of Akron initially won a $5 million judgment in 2001, but the Ohio appeals court overturned the verdict and ordered a retrial because of improper jury instructions.

    Rich, who began working for McDonald's when he was 13, rose quickly through the ranks at a franchise unit in Stow, and was hired by corporate McDonald's to turn around a struggling store in Minerva, according to published reports. Rich alleged that after his supervisors learned he was HIV positive, they created a hostile work environment by forcing him to work long hours, restricting him from handling food and canceling his medical coverage.

    Cuyahoga County Judge John T. Patton reportedly placed a gag order on the attorneys and Rich at the beginning of the trial. In a prepared statement, McDonald's spokesman William Whitman said the fast-food company does not tolerate any form of discrimination and that the lawsuit is without merit.

    News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.