Culver’s franchise entity, Culver Franchising System, Inc., is being sued for alleged racial discrimination against two African-American franchise owners who wanted to develop Culver’s franchises in black neighborhoods.
The filing of the lawsuit was reported by Mary Mitchell in the Chicago Sun Times (Former franchise owners’ lawsuit accuses Culver’s of racial bias)
In a federal lawsuit filed last week, the first black franchisees in the Culver’s system… accuse Culver’s of refusing to expand its brand into black communities because of racial bias.
Michael L. Jones and Michael G. Wilbern allege that they were thwarted in their efforts to open franchises in predominantly black neighborhoods in Chicago and Indiana.
The lawsuit alleges that Wilbern tried to open restaurants at 95th and Stony Island; 83rd and Stewart, and 119th & Marshfield on the far South Side. All three locations were turned down, even though Wilbern claims he notified Culver’s there was the potential to obtain tax-increment financing.”
The Sun Times article reports that refused to approve another South Side Chicago site for Wilbern, despite the fact the city had was willing to provide the lot for $1.00.
Culver’s headquarters is in the Village of Prairie du Sac, WI.
The lawsuit maintains that the company is “owned and managed entirely by white citizens,” and the “overwhelming majority” of Culver’s restaurants are located in areas where African Americans are in the minority.
A quick check of Culver’s home town at City-Data reveals that it’s not exactly a bastion of ethnic diversity, with black residents comprising just .6% of the population:
Ethnic Make-Up of Prairie du Sac, WI
- White alone – 3,677 (92.6%)
- Hispanic – 190 (4.8%)
- Two or more races – 41 (1.0%)
- Black alone – 24 (0.6%)
- Asian alone – 24 (0.6%)
- American Indian alone – 8 (0.2%)
- Other race alone – 7 (0.2%)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone – 1 (0.03%)
What do you think?
Are Culver’s franchising and site selection policies discriminatory?
Or do franchise companies like Culver’s have the right to determine their own site-selection criteria, and no obligation to expand into locations they don’t feel will succeed?
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