Ten ex-McDonald's employees have sued the fast food giant for racial and sexual discrimination.

The lawsuit, which is happening in a federal court in Virginia, alleges that a number of employees were fired from one of the franchises because there were "too many black people".

The Virginia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a group campaigning for higher wages are backing the case.

Ten former employees, of whom nine are African-American and one Hispanic, say that they were the victim of "rampant racial and sexual harassment" by supervisors at three outlets ran by franchisee Michael Simon.

He apparently told his supervisors that the restaurants were becoming "too dark" and that white employees should be hired to "get the ghetto out of the store".

McDonald's issued a statement saying: "McDonald's has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values.

"McDonald's and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants."

McDonald's, and similar fast food operations, has continuously argued that they should not be held responsible for the behaviour of their franchises, but the US National Labor Relations Board stated in mid-2014 that McDonald's "could be held jointly liable for labour and wage violations by its franchise operators".

McDonald's has faced a spat of suits since this ruling.