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McDonald’s tries again to dismiss Byron Allen’s lawsuit

The burger giant has refiled its request to dispense with the discrimination complaint, arguing that the owner of the Weather Channel does not have a viable claim.
McDonald's discrimination lawsuit Byron Allen
Photo by Jonathan Maze

McDonald’s on Wednesday, as promised, refiled its motion to dismiss Byron Allen’s lawsuit against the company, arguing that the owner of the Weather Channel “cannot plead a viable claim” despite multiple attempts.

The filing comes just days after a federal court judge in California refused to dismiss the case, saying that McDonald’s “improperly” referenced materials outside the proceedings. The company said the dismissal was procedural and said it would file another motion.

Allen is the owner of Entertainment Studios Networks and the Weather Group, owner of multiple television stations including the Weather Channel. He has accused McDonald’s of discriminating against his company in its media-buying decisions, saying the burger giant spends only a fraction of its ad budget on Black-owned media. Allen also argued that his company was pigeonholed as targeting only a Black audience.

The lawsuit is among a number of actions accusing McDonald’s and its executives of discrimination—lawsuits have been filed by both employees and franchisees against the company.

In its motion, McDonald’s argues that Allen is comparing his channels, including Comedy.TV and Recipe.TV, to other stations based on demographic data, such as Oxygen and MSNBC. But McDonald’s argues that Allen doesn’t include ratings as one point, and the other channels have higher ratings and thus a bigger audience than those in Allen’s company.

McDonald’s also notes that there is “no allegation McDonald’s advertised” on the Weather Channel before Allen acquired the channel in 2018.

“That creates an obvious alternative explanation for McDonald’s conduct,” the company said in its motion. “It did not advertise on the Weather Channel after 2018 for the same, non-discriminatory reasons as before 2018.”

Allen’s lawsuit was initially dismissed in December. In a statement, McDonald’s said that Allen has failed to state a case despite “four opportunities” to do so. “This case is about revenue, not race,” the company said.

Allen’s “groundless allegations ignore McDonald’s legitimate business reasons for not investing more in their media properties and the company’s collaboration with diverse-owned partners,” the company said.

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