Byron Allen-Owned Networks File $10 Billion Lawsuit Against McDonald’s Alleging Racial Discrimination in Its Advertising

A new $10 billion lawsuit alleges McDonald’s engaged in racial discrimination by refusing to advertise on the networks of Entertainment Studios and Weather Group, which are owned by Black media entrepreneur Byron Allen and includes networks such as the Weather Channel.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges the fast-food chain has a “tiered advertising structure that differentiates on the basis of race,” according to a press release that accompanied the complaint. The company is seeking $10 billion in damages and wants the case tried in front of a jury.

The complaint alleges that while most of McDonald’s advertising budget is allocated for the “general market,” it maintains a “separate ‘African American’ tier, run by a different advertising company, “with a much smaller budget and less-favorable pricing and other terms.”

How much smaller? “McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski makes approximately $11 million per year, which is more than double what McDonald’s spends per year on all of Black-owned media combined,” Allen’s networks say.

USA TODAY has reached out to both McDonald’s and Allen’s companies for comment.

In its complaint, Entertainment Studios says it was never asked to respond for requests for proposals from the white-owned ad agency that allocates the general market budget, shutting them out of the opportunity to win its business. “Instead, Entertainment Studios was forced to compete with African American media companies in the less-favorable African American tier.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jayme Deerwester