McDonald’s is being sued by a former franchisee following the release of video of an altercation involving an Aboriginal flag.
McDonald’s is embroiled in a legal battle with a disgruntled former franchisee who claims he was forced out of the company after ranting about a man’s Aboriginality.
A Victorian man who appeared in a viral video in which he questioned his neighbor’s Aboriginality is suing McDonald’s for terminating his franchise agreement.
Robert Vigors, 65, owned two McDonald’s restaurants in the regional city of Mildura in 2019, but was quickly ordered to vacate the locations following the video’s publication on social media in December 2019.
Ms Ridge attempted to remove an Aboriginal flag from Mr Knight’s vehicle in the video, which was filmed by Indigenous artist Robby Wirramanda-Knight.
Mr Knight could be heard saying, “It’s too strong for you, Karen,” before referring to her as a “racist pig.”
“Which 1% of you are Aboriginal? You are devoid of any Aboriginal ancestry. You make me snicker. To be sure, you can create beautiful paintings and everything else, and I admire your work, don’t get me wrong, I admire your work, but you’re claiming to be Aboriginal? Mr Vigors says in the video, “You make me laugh.”
Mr Knight then informs the pair that their video is “going viral.”
“Let it go viral because individuals like you, individuals like you, make a mockery of genuine Aboriginals. Mr Vigors responds, “I have a lot of good Aboriginal friends.”
The video did go viral and was covered by news outlets worldwide, prompting McDonald’s to intervene shortly after the 2019 video.
Mr Vigors did sell his two restaurants, but in a lawsuit filed this week in Victoria’s Supreme Court, the former McDonald’s executive claims the company “demanded” he do so.
Mr Vigors alleges that McDonald’s took a “unconscientious advantage” of him by acquiring the restaurants at a discounted rate in response to the video.
Mr Vigors claims in court documents that the defendant is a multinational corporation with vast resources, whereas the plaintiffs have limited resources and have concentrated their efforts on the McDonald’s Deakin and McDonald’s Irymple restaurants.
Mr Stanarevic stated that his client had “extreme faith in the judicial process.”
McDonald’s stated that it would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.
“We have a significantly different interpretation of the events surrounding this case and will vigorously defend it,” a spokesman said.
“We are unable to comment further at this time because the matter is before the Court.”
Mr Vigors is seeking an undisclosed sum in damages and a court order nullifying any contract he signed to sell his two restaurants.
McDonald’s stated on social media following the video’s release that Mr Vigors had “left the system” of the fast food chain.
McDonald’s confirms that it has taken over the operation of the Mildura and Irymple restaurants, effective immediately, and that Robert Vigors has departed the system and is no longer involved, a spokesman said in 2019.
“McDonald’s will communicate the change in arrangements to its employees in order to ensure the restaurants’ continued operation.”
Mr Vigors had more than six years remaining on both license agreements at the time he was dropped by McDonald’s.
Mr Vigors is suing a number of news organizations for defamation in connection with the video.