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Mon 10th Aug 2020 - McDonald’s sues ex-CEO Easterbrook over alleged sexual relationships with staff members
McDonald’s sues ex-CEO Easterbrook over alleged sexual relationships with staff members: McDonald’s is suing former chief executive Steve Easterbrook over severance pay-outs after alleging he hid details of three sexual relationships with employees when the company’s board fired him in November 2019 over a separate relationship. In documents filed this morning (10 August) in the US, McDonald’s said an internal investigation found other relationships and evidence Easterbrook had destroyed records to conceal his behaviour. According to the lawsuit, Easterbrook had “physical sexual relationships” with three employees in the year before his termination and approved an extraordinary stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of them “in the midst of their sexual relationship”. The lawsuit adds he was “knowingly untruthful” with investigators. The company alleges that by lying to the board, Easterbrook led them to believe his firing could be considered “without cause”. The board ultimately landed on that designation, which entitled Easterbrook to certain outgoing benefits, the suit alleges. As part of the terms of his exit, Easterbrook was promised 26-weeks’ severance pay in addition to pro-rata bonuses as warranted. Those benefits were thought to amount to circa $42m (£32m). The suit states evidence for Easterbrook’s relationships come in the form of “nude, partially nude or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women”, which included photographs of the three employees. Easterbrook allegedly sent the images as attachments on emails from work to his personal account. Easterbrook became McDonald’s chief executive in 2015. He was replaced in November by Chris Kempczinski who, according to CNN, sent a letter to employees earlier today commenting on the lawsuit. He wrote: “We recently became aware, through an employee report, of new information regarding the conduct of our former chief executive Steve Easterbrook. We now know his conduct deviated from our values in different and far more extensive ways than we were aware when he left the company last year. McDonald’s does not tolerate behaviour from any employee that doesn’t reflect our values.”


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