NEW YORK: Fast-food giant McDonald’s announced on Monday it is suing former CEO Steve Easterbrook for lying about allegedly inappropriate sexual relationships with employees.
Easterbrook was dismissed in November 2019 over his “poor judgment” in engaging in a consensual relationship with a member of staff in violation of company policy.
McDonald’s said it had subsequently learned that Easterbrook lied “and destroyed information regarding inappropriate personal behavior” and relationships with three other employees, as well as providing stock worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of the employees.
The chain is seeking to recover compensation and severance benefits paid to the executive under the terms of his departure last year, according to a securities filing.
The lawsuit, which alleges that Easterbrook committed fraud by misleading the company over the separation agreement, has been filed in a state court in Delaware.
“(He) was knowingly untruthful with McDonald’s investigators,” says the complaint.
Easterbrook’s separation agreement included six months’ severance pay, plus stock options.
US media reports have estimated his exit package at around $40 million.
In 2018, Easterbrook’s base pay was $1.3 million and his total compensation including bonus and stock options was $15.9 million.
He was replaced by Chris Kempczinski, who joined McDonald’s in October 2015 after working in a senior strategic role at Kraft Foods and previously at PepsiCo.
One day after Easterbrook’s departure, McDonald’s announced that its top human resources executive, David Fairhurst, who joined McDonald’s in 2005 and was named chief people officer at the restaurant chain in 2015, had also left.
In May, an international group of labor unions filed a complaint against McDonald’s for what it called systematic sexual harassment at the fast food chain’s restaurants around the world.
The complaint, filed with the Dutch national contact point for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was the first of its kind to target a multinational company, the International Union of Foodworkers said.
The document cites witness testimony of “attempted rape, indecent exposure, groping, and sexual offers.”
McDonald’s said at the time it would review the complaint, stressing that the food giant was a “people-first company.”

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