McDonald’s has over 36,000 locations around the globe, which are estimated to serve over 69 million customers daily. That’s the second-highest number of locations for a fast-food chain in the world. (Subway takes the top spot.)
At that scale, it’s no wonder there have been so many controversies and scandals. Most people have heard of the hot coffee incident in which 79-year-old Stella Liebeck was severely burned by the fast-food chain’s scalding coffee. She was hospitalized for eight days and awarded millions by a jury. Ultimately, McDonald’s settled the lawsuit with Liebeck privately.
Although that’s one of the most publicized cases, McDonald’s has faced other outrageous scandals, like the ones detailed below.
10. The McDonald’s Virginia Racism Lawsuit
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In 2015, several former McDonald’s employees based in Virginia launched a civil rights lawsuit against the company. They alleged that after Michael Simon had become their boss and owner of three McDonald’s restaurants, he made a conscious decision to reduce the number of ethnic minorities he employed.
It was claimed that supervisors had openly stated that there were “too many black people in the store,” leading to an influx of white people being hired. This was followed two months later by the mass firing of 15 black employees. The fired workers also stated that they had attempted to contact the corporate offices of McDonald’s to complain about their treatment, but they received little to no response.
The lawsuit has broader implications for McDonald’s as the argument is based around how responsible the company should be for the actions of its franchisees. If McDonald’s is classified as a joint employer with its franchisees, then the responsibilities of McDonald’s as the franchisor increase significantly. However, that debate is ongoing.