Steve Easterbrook, the former Chief Executive of McDonald’s who was fired last year for having an affair with an employee, is now being sued by his one-time bosses for what is described as ‘tens of millions of dollars’.
The company will claim in court that Easterbrook admitted to a non-physical relationship with an employee – the transgression for which he was fired – but gave assurances that he’d had no other intimate relationships with subordinates while he was in the top job.
Terminated with a substantial financial package
As a result, McDonald’s gave him what is known as a ‘without cause’ termination, which meant he could keep various stock awards valued at US$37-million and also receive a termination payment of US$675 000.
Now it appears that there were actually three sexual relationships in the year before Easterbrook left the company, plus a further sexual affair at the time he was terminated.
The new details which came to light are apparently backed up by sexually compromising photographs or videos, including photographs of the three employees, which Easterbrook sent from his company email account to his personal email address.
Company alleges fraud and concealing evidence
On Monday, McDonald’s filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook, who is British, for lying, concealing evidence and fraud.
The essence of the lawsuit is that the company would not have paid the severance package and stock options if it had been aware of the other affairs. Instead, it would have terminated Eastbrook ‘with cause’.
The current Chief Executive, Chris Kempczinski, said in a message to franchisees and employees that “McDonald’s does not tolerate behaviour from any employee that does not reflect our values.”
Conduct deviated from the company’s values
“We now know that his conduct deviated from our values in different and far more extensive ways than we were aware when he left the company last year,” Kempczinski said.
“As we recommit to our values, now, more than ever, is the time to lean in to what we stand for and act as a positive force for change,” he added.