Largest Black-Owned Franchise Operator to Sue McDonald’s In Major Discrimination Lawsuit Over Alleged Forced Store Sales to White Owners

Herb Washington in a 2002 feature story with SF Gate titled From fast to fast food / A's 'designated runner' succeeds in business
Herb Washington made headlines as a champion sprinter, helped win a World Series and went down in the record books by building the largest Black-owned McDonald’s franchise operation in the U.St. Herb is shown in a 2002 feature story with SF Gate published January 13, 2002. Photo credit: AP / Ron Schwane.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Herb Washington is a real American success story: He made headlines as a champion sprinter at Michigan State University, helped win a World Series for the Oakland A’s, and went down in the record books by building the largest Black-owned McDonald’s franchise operation in the United States. But, as part of its effort to drive Black franchisees from its system, McDonald’s has targeted Washington and has pressured him to sell one store after another to white franchisees.

On February 16th, Washington will bring a civil rights action to hold McDonald’s accountable for its racial discrimination and retaliation against him as a Black franchisee. A live, two-way video-based news conference with full Q&A to announce a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway on behalf of Herb Washington.

After setting world records in track and being drafted in pro football, "Hurricane Herb" made breakthroughs in baseball, business and banking.
After setting world records in track and being drafted in pro football, “Hurricane Herb” made breakthroughs in baseball, business and banking. Michigan State Spartan Athletics.

At his height, Washington ran 27 McDonald’s restaurants in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio during his 40 years with the company. Though other lawsuits have been filed by Black McDonald’s franchise owners, Herb Washington is a national icon both in the McDonald’s world and in the bigger universe of America’s Black business success stories.


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Speakers in the two-way video-based news conference will include Herbert L. Washington, Rev. Jesse Jackson (invited), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, chair, Congressional Black Caucus, Joseph C. Peiffer, managing partner, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, and Kevin P. Conway, partner, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway.

“Hurricane” Herb Washington of the Oakland A’s. Photo by Doug McWilliams / National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

The live event will take place at 1:30 EST/12:30 CST/10:30 a.m. PST on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. A streaming version of the news event will be available later that same day at www.peifferwolf.com.    

This event is reserved for members of the news media. To register and participate in the news event visit this Zoom link. Those who elect to participate by a traditional dial-up phone call will be in a listen-only mode for the Q&A period.

“If one of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the United States gets away with silencing someone with the track record and success of Herb Washington, what Black business leader can feel safe in speaking out about the mistreatment of African Americans in the business world? What is particularly disturbing here is that McDonald’s stores that have been built up by Black owners in challenging neighborhoods are being stripped away from those Black owners and handed to white owners… all as part of a cynical exercise in manipulating the restaurant chain’s profitability numbers to give the phony appearance of parity amongst Black and white franchise owners,” said Max Karlin, a spokesperson from The Hastings Group which is assisting in the media event on behalf of Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway

The law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway maintains offices in Cleveland, Youngstown, St. Louis, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and New Orleans.   

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