McDonald’s is suing its former CEO to recoup the compensation paid to him because he allegedly lied about sexual relationships he had with employees.
Steve Easterbrook was fired from his job in November after the fast-food chain determined that he had a consensual nonphysical relationship with an employee.
In July, McDonald’s got an anonymous tip that Easterbook had been involved in sexual relationships with three other employees, violations of company policy, according to the lawsuit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery on Monday. He allegedly lied and destroyed evidence to cover that behavior up.
An investigation found “dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of these Company employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his Company e-mail account to his personal e-mail account” in late 2018 or early 2019, the lawsuit states. They’d been deleted from his company-issued cellphone, but were still in his company email account, which was stored on the corporate servers.
Easterbrook also allegedly OK’d a stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of the three employees he was sleeping with.
McDonald’s says it wouldn’t have approved the terms of the severance agreement, had it known about these actions—and now it wants back the compensation and severance benefits Easterbrook wouldn’t have gotten if he’d been terminated for cause.
McDonald’s is accusing Easterbook of breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
Other media outlets tried and failed to reach him for comment.
No dollar amount is cited in the lawsuit, but at the time of Easterbrook’s firing, Equilar estimated his severance package was close to $42 million.
“McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values. These actions reflect a continued demonstration of this commitment,” Chris Kempczinski, who replaced Easterbrook as CEO, wrote in a company memo today.