Did McDonald's Partner With J Balvin, Travis Scott to Cover Up Racial Discrimination Lawsuits?

McDonald's, in an effort to draw the attention of more customers, had started collaborating with celebrities, naming meals after them. Recently, the insanely popular fast-food company came up with Travis Scott Meal and J Balvin meal to attract customers and increase their sales. However, a report from Vice suggested that the partnerships with rapper Travis Scott and singer J Balvin were launched in response to two racial discrimination lawsuits.

According to the Vice report, the food giant's recent celebrity collaborations were allegedly put in place to mask recent racial discrimination lawsuits filed by former employees. Given that Scott is a black rapper with a large following in hip-hop, the report states that the collaboration between the rapper and the fast-food franchise could be used to cover up claims of mistreatment by former Black employees, who have taken legal action against the fast-food company.

McDonald’s J Balvin Meal
J Balvin Meal available for a limited time

One lawsuit, filed by two former employees in January this year, claimed that the fast-food chain "conducted a ruthless purge" of Black employees in management positions. The lawsuit also alleged that McDonald's fostered a "hostile and abusive work environment" for Black executives and franchise owners. The number of Black employees in these positions has dropped from 42 in 2014 to seven in 2019, the lawsuit added.

The second lawsuit filed was filed in September, the month McDonald's launched its collaboration with Scott. It was filed by 52 Black franchise owners, who claimed to have been subjected to "systematic and covert racial discrimination" for multiple decades. In the suit, the franchise owners stated that famous fast-food giant pushed to open locations in low-income, high-crime areas in which employee turnover is at its highest. They also alleged that Black franchisees had not received appropriate financial support and garnered harsher internal reviews than their white co-workers.

A similar claim was made in September by Chin Jou, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sydney, detailing McDonald's' ongoing racial discrimination issues. According to The Washington Post, Jou explained how McDonald's has allegedly used Black and Brown consumers over the years while simultaneously sabotaging workers of color.

"McDonald's should be in the doghouse when it comes to African Americans right now. This Travis Scott juggernaut has been so successful at obfuscating other McDonald's-related news items," Jou claimed.

Company Denies Allegations

However, the company has denied the allegations regarding the collaborations, and the lawsuits filed against it. In response to the racial discrimination claims made against the popular fast-food giant, the company issued a statement. The statement from McDonald's USA shared with Complex reads: "Any claim that McDonald's collaboration with Travis Scott was launched in response to recent litigation is completely false. We teamed up with Travis—and our newest celebrity partner, J Balvin—because of their love for the McDonald's brand, their widespread appeal, and their loyal following among our younger customers and our crew."

The statement further read: "In regards to the litigation—these allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world. Not only do we categorically deny the allegations, but we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald's System, including across our franchisees, suppliers, and employees."

Last week, it was reported that McDonald's Corp. sales increased 4.6 percent in the past few months -- July, August and September -- when compared to the same period in 2019, with the company crediting the rise to their collaboration with Scott. The partnership between the fast-food giant and Scott also included several mech collection drops that sold out quickly.

While it's not clear when the rapper officially inked the deal with the company, the announcement of their partnership followed public outcry over police brutality and the lives taken at the hands of law enforcement including the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Following those incidents garnering worldwide coverage and multiple social media campaigns being launched to spread awareness for the fight against injustice, an emphasis has been placed on the demand for equality and an end to racial discrimination. Hence, many famous companies have taken measures to unroot prejudicial issues and racial discrimination within their corporations.