McDonald's former CEO fires back at fast-food giant, seeks to dismiss lawsuit

McDonald’s former CEO Stephen Easterbrook has fired back through his lawyers at the fast food giant for suing him for covering up sexual relationships with employees, according to Bloomberg. According to Easterbrook, the company knew of his relationships during the negotiation stage of his exit.  However recently, McDonald's officials claimed that new information had emerged which had been "concealed" by Easterbrook.

According to reports on Bloomberg, Easterbrook's lawyers said on 14 August in a court filing that the company was looking to improperly "manufacture claims for a breach of fiduciary duty or fraud". "McDonald's - a sophisticated entity represented by numerous internal and external experts when it entered into the separation agreement - is aware it cannot credibly allege a breach of contract claim," the lawyers stated. It was also added that McDonald's Corporation "filed a meritless - and misleading - lawsuit in the wrong forum".

The news of the legal battle emerged earlier this year when McDonald's claimed that Easterbrook was lying to the company and the board and had destroyed information regarding inappropriate personal behaviour. According to the legal document seen by Marketing, McDonald's alleged that Easterbrook (pictured) had in fact been involved in sexual relationships with three additional company employees prior to his termination, all in violation of company policy.

"Recently identified evidence shows that Easterbrook had physical sexual relationships with three other 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," the company said in the legal document.

The legal document explained that the internal investigation discovered photographic evidence consisting of "dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of [the three] company employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his company e-mail account to his personal e-mail account". The date and time stamps on the photographs of the three company employees show that the photographs were all taken in late 2018 or early 2019.

When Easterbook was asked to leave the company for being involved with an employee in November last year, the relationship was deemed consensual, but McDonald's said Easterbrook "demonstrated poor judgement". In an email to employees, Easterbrook previously described his actions as "a mistake" and said he agreed with the board that it was time for him to move on.

McDonald's first learnt of the allegation of Easterbrook's inappropriate personal relationship in October last year and immediately commissioned an investigation, the legal document said. "The investigation confirmed that the alleged relationship had occurred and revealed that it had been a non-physical, consensual relationship involving texting and video calls”.

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