McDonald's gets approval to sue its ousted CEO, alleging he covered up sexting and inappropriate relationships with subordinates

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McDonald's gets approval to sue its ousted CEO, alleging he covered up sexting and inappropriate relationships with subordinates
McDonald's has the go-ahead to sue its former CEO.Getty Images
  • A judge denied former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook's motion to dismiss a case against him.
  • The company alleges Easterbrook covered up sexual relationships with three subordinates.
  • McDonald's argued it would not have granted Easterbrook severance if he did not delete sexts.
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A Delaware judge has approved McDonald's efforts to sue former CEO Steve Easterbrook over allegations the ex-executive covered up sexual relationships with employees.

On Tuesday, Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights III of the Court of Chancery in Delaware denied Easterbrook's motion to dismiss the company's lawsuit against him.

McDonald's sued Easterbrook in August, alleging that the company found new evidence that he covered up sexual relationships with three female employees during his last year leading the company. According to McDonald's, investigators uncovered "dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women," including three McDonald's employees, on the company's servers.

Read more: Insiders reveal how former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook went from the chain's savior to its worst nightmare as sex-scandal accusations threaten to envelop the fast-food giant

Easterbrook was terminated by McDonald's in November 2019 after an investigation into his relationship with a different McDonald's employee. At the time, McDonald's investigators found evidence that the relationship was sexual but not physical. Easterbrook was terminated and given a severance package worth up to $57 million.

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McDonald's alleges that Easterbrook deleted photos and videos from his phone that would have lead investigators to discover his sexual relationships with other women in 2019. If McDonald's had this information, the company says, it would not have granted Easterbrook severance.

Easterbrook's attorney argued that McDonald's could have accessed the evidence on its servers when the severance agreement was signed in November 2019. Further, Easterbrook's attorney argued, McDonald's filed its lawsuit in the wrong state. An attorney for Easterbrook did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

Slights, the judge, was not convinced by Easterbrook's attorneys' arguments, denying Easterbrook's motion to dismiss.

"With the Court's denial of Steve Easterbrook's motion to dismiss, we can now move forward with our case seeking the return of his severance payment and to hold him accountable for his lies and his efforts to destroy evidence," McDonald's told Insider in a statement.

"He violated the Company's policies, disrespected its values, and abused the trust of his co-workers, the Board, our franchisees, and our shareholders," the statement continued. "We look forward to bringing the evidence of Easterbrook's misconduct before the Court and to proving our case."

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Read the inside story of how Easterbrook went from the chain's savior to its worst nightmare here.

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