Racial Discrimination Lawsuit by Former McDonald’s Security Exec Alleges CEO Undermined and Barred Him from Corporate Jet

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Michael Peaster, who served as vice president of global safety, security, and intelligence at McDonald’s until he was fired in 2021, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company and CEO Chris Kempczinski.

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According to Peaster, Kempczinski constantly discouraged him and even banned him from flying on the company’s private jet. This happened after Peaster challenged the CEO during a town-hall meeting. The meeting was called to discuss a text message Kempczinski sent to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot about a pair of shootings. It reads, in part, “ps tragic shootings last week, in our restaurant yesterday and by Adam Toldeo. In both, the parents failed those children that I know is something you can’t say. It’s harder to fix it.”

When it was made public months later, the message was called victim-blaming and racist, and Kempczinski later said his words “lacked the empathy and compassion” he felt for the grieving families. .

Business Insider reported that during the town hall, Peaster said, “We can’t expand the issues of violence in Chicago to see that all parents whose children are victims of gun violence are bad parents. . We need to have empathy and compassion for the majority of families who live in difficult communities who work so hard to provide for their families and protect them.”

Peaster’s comments drew applause at the time. He later admitted, however, that he felt discriminated against and rejected in the year leading up to his dismissal. Peaster claimed he was criticized for making Kempczinski feel “unsafe” in Mexico City and São Paulo, according to the lawsuit.

McDonald’s disputed Peaster’s timeline and claimed his termination was due to performance issues.

McDonald’s has faced other allegations of racial discrimination since Kempczinski took over. In January 2020, two Black executives at the company filed a discrimination lawsuit claiming they suffered emotional distress, humiliation, and physical suffering. In September 2020, a judge dismissed a discrimination lawsuit filed by 52 Black former franchisees seeking $1 billion. Plaintiffs reversed and refiled an amended suit after the dismissal.

Despite the lawsuits, McDonald’s maintains that the allegations of racial discrimination are unfounded and that the company is committed to diversity and equal opportunity.


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