Like most states in the U.S., Florida is an at-will employment state. This means that employers can generally terminate workers without good cause. That being said, however, firings based on certain grounds may still be considered illegal under state and federal employment laws. These grounds include discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, nationality or age. Firing employees based on illegal reasons can open companies up to employment litigation.
A group of 10 workers, who were formerly employed at various McDonald’s locations in Virginia, claim to have been discriminated against based on their race. According to reports, the one Hispanic worker and nine African-American employees had their employment with the fast food giant terminated. They were reportedly told that they did not fit the company’s profile for their restaurants. Additionally, it was reported that the manager at one of the stores said the restaurant was “too dark”. The workers claim that white employees primarily replaced them.
Based on their claims, the former employees have reportedly taken the step of filing a lawsuit against the stores where they worked, each of which are franchisee locations owned by the same company. The group alleges that they went to McDonald’s Corporate with their complaints, but were told to take up their concerns with the franchisee. Since McDonald’s largely controls the operations of even the franchised restaurants, the group has also named the fast-food company in their lawsuit.
Although state law gives employers the ability to terminate employees for bad reason, good reason or no reason at all, it does not give them the right to discriminate against workers. When employees feel that their civil rights have been infringed on in the workplace, they may have grounds for legal action. An attorney may explain their rights, as well as their options.
Source: Huffington Post, “Workers Sue McDonald’s For Discrimination, Opening New Front In Franchise Fight,” Dave Jamieson, Jan. 22, 2015