McDonald's Denies Travis Scott and J Balvin Partnerships Were to Distract from Discrimination Lawsuits

"The facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald's System"
McDonald's Denies Travis Scott and J Balvin Partnerships Were to Distract from Discrimination Lawsuits
Scott photo by Jerritt Clark / Getty Images for McDonald's
While McDonald's has made headlines in recent weeks for its high-profile team-ups with Travis Scott and J Balvin, the company has been accused of launching the collaborations in response to a pair of racial discrimination lawsuits. Now, the fast-food giant has denied the allegations.

The statement from McDonald's USA arrives following a report published by VICE last week, noting that the restaurant was facing two discrimination lawsuits filed by Black executives and franchise owners. The first lawsuit was filed in January, while the second was filed in September — the month the chain launched its collaboration with Scott.

"McDonald's should be in the doghouse when it comes to African Americans right now," academic Chin Jou, author of Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food with Government Help, told VICE. "This Travis Scott juggernaut has been so successful at obfuscating other McDonald's-related news items."

VICE reports that the first lawsuit, filed by two former executives, claims the company "conducted a ruthless purge" of Black leaders and fostered a "hostile and abusive work environment" for Black executives and franchise owners. The second suit, meanwhile, alleges McDonald's subjected Black franchise owners to "systematic and covert racial discrimination" over decades.

In their statement, McDonald's writes that "Any claim that [the] 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 reads. "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."

The "Travis Scott meal" — which hamburger hypebeasts flipped online not long after its arrival — gets you a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon and lettuce, and a medium fries with BBQ sauce and a Sprite. "The J Balvin," meanwhile, features a Big Mac, an order of fries with ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry.