McDonald's sues ex-CEO for 'destroying' information regarding 'inappropriate personal behaviour'

McDonald's is suing former CEO Stephen Easterbrook for lying to the company and the board and destroying 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.

McDonald's explained that it was unaware of these photographs before July 2020, when it discovered them in the course of investigating the allegations regarding Easterbrook and a second employee. Had the board been aware of this information, McDonald's said it would not have approved the terms of the separation agreement dated as of 1 November 2019, by and between Easterbrook and the company. "And had Easterbrook not deleted evidence from his phone and lied to the board and its investigators in October 2019, the board would have known the full record of his conduct when it considered the terms of his separation," it added.

Multiple media reports such as The New York Times, CNBC and CNN, McDonald's is suing Easterbrook to recover compensation and severance benefits of at least US$40 million. The company explained that this would not have been retained by Easterbrook "had he been terminated for cause". "McDonald’s brings this action to redress the injuries it has suffered by virtue of Easterbrook’s fiduciary breaches and deceit," it said in the legal document.

Last November, Easterbook was fired for being involved with an employee. While the relationship was consensual, McDonald's said Easterbrook "demonstrated poor judgement" in doing so. In an email to employees, Easterbrook previously described his actions as "a mistake" and said he agreed with the board that it is 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,"

Photo courtesy: 123RF

Related articles:
McDonald's China hands Publicis Groupe its media planning business
McDonald's ID pays tribute to women in frontline for Kartini Day
McDonald's China responds to racist policies by branch staff
Pizza Hut sends a slice of love to McDonald's SG with heartfelt post
McDonald's MY showcases competitors' hero products on social to show unity