Several fired McDonald's employees who say they were subject to rampant racial discrimination and sexual harassment are suing the fast-food chain's corporate parent, which they say controls nearly every aspect of how franchisees operate.
The workers say in their federal complaint that about 15 African-American employees of some Virginia restaurants run by Soweva Co. were fired last May. Many were told they didn't fit the company's profile.
Representatives of McDonald's and Soweva did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Franchisees operate the vast majority of the chain's more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants.
The lawsuit comes a month after the National Labor Relations Board designated McDonald's Corp. and its franchisees joint employers, with the corporate parent essentially being top boss. McDonald's has vowed to contest that designation.