McDonald’s is suing its former CEO Stephen Easterbook over inappropriate relationships he had with employees during his time as an executive.
Last year, Easterbrook was kicked to the curb after the burger chain found out that he had an inappropriate relationship with an employee. On Monday, McDonald’s announced that it will be suing Easterbrook, alleging that he covered up relationships with three other employees and destroyed evidence of it. “McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from employees that does not reflect our values,” said McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski, who was promoted following Easterbrook’s termination. Kempczinski’s announcement was sent out to employees on Monday.
The move comes just as the company is putting in efforts to combat the slew of sexual harassment and misconduct incidents McDonald’s has experienced. According to ABC, in the U.S. alone, more than 50 workers have filed separate sexual harassment charges against McDonald’s with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions or in state courts. Kempczinski said he is making it his priority to make sure employees are “encouraged and comfortable coming forward with information about any behavior that doesn’t align with our values.” In addition, the company announced it would be conducting a global survey and creating listening sessions to evaluate the company’s current work environment and culture. Once those assessments are completed, they will be shared with employees in November, according to McDonald’s Chief People Officer Heidi Capozzi.
As for Easterbrook, the company is seeking to reclaim millions of dollars in compensation that was paid to the former CEO. Easterbrook was let go back in November after acknowledging that he exchanged videos and text messages during a non-physical, consensual relationship with an employee. Easterbrook told the company that there were no other instances, and an initial cellphone search confirmed that. McDonald’s board ended up approving a separation agreement “without cause” based on the information the company knew. That allowed Easterbrook to keep nearly $42 million in stock-based benefits, according to Equilar, which keeps track of executive compensation. Easterbrook has collected 26 weeks of pay, which comes out to about $670,000, ABC reports.
Easterbrook was lovin’ it until July when McDonald’s received an anonymous tip that Easterbrook did, in fact, engage in a sexual relationship with another employee. Since then, he hasn’t put a smile on. Following an investigation, McDonald’s confirmed Easterbrook was involved in two other physical, sexual relationships in the year before he was fired. On top of lying about the relationships he had, Easterbrook also approved a special grant of restricted stock, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one the employees that he was sleeping with.
McDonald’s revealed on Monday that Easterbrook deleted evidence including sexually explicit photos and videos, which prevented investigators from knowing about them prior to him being fired. However, the evidence was still on the company’s email servers. As for why McDonald’s didn’t check them the first time around? The company said it believed Easterbrook would have told the entire truth. “That reliance caused the company injury,” McDonald’s said in the lawsuit. The total amount the company is seeking in damages has not been released.