McDonald’s sues ex-CEO over sexual relations with workers

A McDonald's restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, Calif., on Friday. The company has filed a lawsuit against former CEO Steve Easterbrook in a bid to recoup money it paid out when it fired him last year. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Aug. 10 (UPI) — Fast food giant McDonald’s is suing former CEO Steve Easterbrook, saying lies that he told about sexual relationships with employees prompted the company to give him a substantial payout, according to documents filed Monday.

McDonald’s dismissed Easterbrook last fall over a consensual relationship with a female employee and hired executive Chris Kempczinski as his successor. He was given a severance package worth more than $40 million.

The company said in a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, however, that further investigation found Easterbrook had been involved in sexual relationships with at least three additional employees before he was fired.

The company said Easterbrook “destroyed information regarding inappropriate personal behavior” and approved a stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of the employees during their relationship.

In its suit, McDonalds also said Easterbrook sent dozens of nude, partially nude or sexually explicit photographs and videos of the women from his company e-mail account to a private account.

“His conduct … was irreconcilable with the culture of professionalism and integrity that had been the bedrock of the company’s success,” McDonald’s says in the lawsuit.

Easterbrook was given severance pay and benefits because the company agreed at the time that his dismissal had been “without cause.”

“Had Easterbrook been candid with McDonald’s investigators and not concealed evidence, McDonald’s would have known that it had legal cause to terminate him in 2019 and would not have agreed that his termination was ‘without cause.’ Accordingly, McDonald’s brings this action to redress the injuries it has suffered by virtue of Easterbrook’s fiduciary breaches and deceit.”

The complaint aims to recover all cash and stock benefits given Easterbrook, compensatory damages and legal fees.


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