McDonald's files lawsuit against former CEO alleging he had multiple sexual relationships with employees and lied to investigators
McDonald'sfiled a lawsuit on Monday accusing its former CEO Steve Easterbrookof lying about sexual relationships with multiple coworkers during his last year working at the fast-food giant.
- Easterbrook was ousted from McDonald's in November after what the company described as an investigation into a consensual relationship with a coworker.
- McDonald's said in Monday's complaint that Easterbrook lied to investigators to cover up sexual relationships with at least three McDonald's employees from 2018 to 2019.
- The complaint, which seeks to recover money Easterbrook earned upon exiting the company, said he sent dozens of nude and sexually explicit photos and videos as attachments from his McDonald's email account to his personal email.
- It also accused Easterbrook of approving an extraordinary stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one McDonald's employee "shortly after their first sexual encounter and within days of their second."
McDonald's is suing its former CEO Steve Easterbrook.
The fast-food giant filed litigation against Easterbrook on Monday, alleging that the former chief executive destroyed evidence of multiple sexual relationships with McDonald's employees.
"Recently identified evidence shows that Easterbrook had physical sexual relationships with three McDonald's employees in the year before his termination; that he approved an extraordinary stock grant, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, for one of those employees in the midst of their sexual relationship; and that he was knowingly untruthful with McDonald's investigators in 2019," McDonald's said in a complaint filed in Delaware on Monday.
According to the complaint, McDonald's launched an internal investigation into Easterbrook's relationship with a McDonald's employee last October. The investigation concluded that the relationship was consensual and never included a physical relationship. At the time, the complaint said, Easterbrook told independent outside counsel that he had never engaged in any sexual relationship with a fellow McDonald's employee.
Easterbrook was nevertheless terminated in November for violating company policies banning "intimate interactions," with an independent board of directors determining his actions reflected a "lack of judgment." Seeking a smooth transition, McDonald's did not seek "for-cause termination," and Easterbrook was granted millions of dollars in severance pay and benefits.
McDonald's now says, however, that it obtained new evidence in July uncovering sexual relationships between Easterbrook and other employees.
An internal investigation into an anonymous report found that Easterbrook had sent "dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women" as attachments from his McDonald's email account to his personal email, the complaint says. Three of the women pictured in these photos, sent from 2018 to 2019, were McDonald's employees.
Additionally, the complaint accuses Easterbrook of approving a special discretionary grant of restricted stock units, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, to one of these McDonald's employees "shortly after their first sexual encounter and within days of their second."
"While the Board made the right decision to swiftly remove him from the Company last November, this new information makes it clear that he lied and destroyed evidence regarding inappropriate personal behavior and should not have retained the contractual compensation he did upon his exit," Kempczinski wrote. "As such, the Company, at the direction of the Board of Directors, has filed litigation to recover the compensation he retained upon his departure from McDonald's and align his exit payout with a 'for cause' termination."
Kempczinski, previously the head of the US business, was promoted to CEO when Easterbrook was ousted from the company. In the months since, Kempczinski has emphasized the importance of values in the company's business strategy moving forward. In late July, Kempczinski announced McDonald's was rolling out "refreshed" values, putting diversity front and center.
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