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Black Workers Sue Rock Island McDonald's for Racial Discrimination

Marianna Bacallao, WVIK News
Stephanie Stevens speaks on her personal experiences of racial discrimination at the 11th Street Rock Island McDonald's protest.

Two former employees of a McDonald's restaurant in Rock Island are suing for racial discrimination. The lawsuit filed today in federal court alleges managers cut Black employees' hours and referred to both Black workers and customers as "ghetto" and "lazy." 

Plaintiff Selynda Middlebrook says she was cut to four hours a week, only bringing a total of $40 home for her and her daughter. 

"The white general manager put mostly Black workers on the list of employees that were prohibited from taking any extra hours because we supposedly had a worse attitude and were not able to do simple tasks."

When the manager called Middlebrook a "waste of space," her coworker—and now co-plaintiff—Stephanie Stevens says she took a stand. 

"I told the general manager that her words about Selynda were no way to talk about a person and were unacceptable. I wanted an apology. But instead of listening to my concerns, McDonald's fired me on the spot."

The plaintiffs, along with members of the Service Employees Union, protested outside the McDonald's on 11th Street in Rock Island this afternoon, chanting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist managers have got to go." 

The owner of the Rock Island McDonald's, Trina Gendron, says discrimination or retaliation of any kind are not tolerated in her restaurants, and she is currently investigating the allegations.  

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster.
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