McDonald’s sues ex-boss Easterbrook over sexual relationships


Steve Easterbrook

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Reuters

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McDonald’s claims Steve Easterbrook had lied.

McDonald’s has taken new legal action against former chief executive Steve Easterbook, accusing him of lying about sexual relationships with staff.

The company fired Mr Easterbrook last year after finding he had a consensual relationship with an employee.

But the firm says further investigation found Mr Easterbook had three additional relationships with staff, about which he lied to the board.

McDonald’s is suing to recover his pay-off, reportedly worth $40m (£35m).

The fast food giant said in a filing to regulators that information had “recently come to the attention of the Board through an employee report”, prompting further investigation.

“Based on the results of the investigation, the Board concluded that Mr. Easterbrook lied to the company and the Board and destroyed information regarding inappropriate personal behaviour and in fact had been involved in sexual relationships with three additional company employees prior to his termination, all in violation of company policy,” it said.

McDonald’s said that had it been aware of this information, it would not have approved the severance terms.

‘Undisputable evidence’

Mr Easterbrook, a UK citizen who grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire, led McDonald’s from March 2015 to November 2019, after previously leading its UK operations.

At the time of his removal in November, McDonald’s said it had evidence of only of a non-physical, consensual relationship, consisting of intimate text messages and video calls.

It agreed to terminate his contact “without cause”, fearing a protracted legal battle, according to the firm’s legal filing.

But the new investigation uncovered “undisputable evidence” of three other sexual relationships, it says.

It says investigators found nude photographs sent from Mr Easterbrook’s company email account as well as messages showing that he approved a grant of company shares worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of the employees “shortly after their first sexual encounter”.

McDonald’s said its policies prohibit “any kind of intimate relationship between employees in a direct or indirect reporting relationship”.

Mr Easterbrook could not immediately be reached for comment.



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