CHICAGO — After 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams and 13-year-old Adam Toledo were shot to death last year, the CEO of the West Loop-based fast food giant sent a text message to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, blaming the deaths on the children’s parents.

Amid public outrage, McDonald’s CEO Christopher Kempczinski convened a company town hall meeting to address the controversy.

During that meeting in the fall of 2021, the company’s head of corporate security, Michael Peaster, told the employees assembled that “We cannot broad brush the violence issues in Chicago to make it appear that all parents who have children who are victims to gun violence are bad parents,” according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Peaster, a Black man, filed that federal civil rights lawsuit last week against McDonald’s and Kempczinski, alleging that he was fired last month, not only because of his race, but out of retaliation for publicly contradicting the company’s CEO.

“This termination was discriminatory against Michael Peaster because of his race; it was part of hostile work environment based on his race; and it was retaliatory against Michael Peaster based on his respectful but legitimate contradiction of Kempczinski on the subject of race,” the suit states.

Peaster alleges that, in January 2022, he was promoted to the company’s Vice President of Global Safety, Security and Intelligence. In that role, he and his team were also responsible for the physical safety and security of McDonald’s executives, including Kempczinski.

However, in the months after the company meeting, Kempczinski engaged in an “intentional campaign to ostracize” Peaster from the company where he’d worked for 35 years, according to the lawsuit.

On Nov. 7, McDonald’s head attorney told Peaster that he was fired as of Dec. 31 because he “had performed poorly as Vice-President of Global Safety, Security, and Intelligence, but the accusation of poor performance was pretextual,” the suit alleges.

In a statement, McDonald’s strongly denied Peaster’s claims, saying the allegations in the lawsuit “run completely afoul of the facts and the values our leadership team and company uphold.”

“As stated in his Complaint, Mr. Peaster was promoted in January 2022; however, he was subsequently terminated due to serious performance issues in his expanded role,” the statement continued. “To suggest that his termination was based on retaliation or anything other than performance lapses is to completely ignore the facts. We intend to vigorously defend against this lawsuit and to continue to lead with our values.”

The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2023.