McDonald's sues former boss Steve Easterbrook for lying about relationships

McDonald’s sues ousted CEO alleging employee relationships

McDonald's is suing its ousted CEO for lying about sexual relationships with employees

Easterbrook could not immediately be reached for comment.

McDonald's says it's suing Stephen Easterbrook, the CEO it ousted previous year over an inappropriate relationship with an employee, alleging Monday that he covered up relationships with three other employees and destroyed evidence.

McDonald's is looking to regain the tens of millions in severance and benefits that he received, claiming he lied about other relationships he had with employees prior to being terminated in November, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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

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The worldwide chain is suing Easterbrook for more than $40 million, the amount he was given when he exited the company in November, the outside firm Equilar estimated in 2019.

But the firm says further investigation found Mr Easterbook lied to the board, destroyed information and had three additional relationships with staff.

It also accused Easterbrook of approving an extraordinary stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one McDonald's employee "shortly after their first sexual encounter and within days of their second".

"(He) was knowingly untruthful with McDonald's investigators", says the complaint, which also shed new light on the relationship that led to his departure. Because of his assurance, and input from the woman that the relationship had been consensual and non-sexual, the board opted to dismiss Easterbrook without cause, thinking that would allow the company to push forward in its turnaround efforts.

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"The company's complaint alleges that Mr. Easterbrook breached his fiduciary duties as an officer and director of the company and committed fraud in the inducement", the company told investors in its filing. Easterbrook was awarded more than $29 million in stock-based compensation in those two years.

Mr Easterbrook's separation agreement included six months' severance pay, plus stock options.

"That reliance caused the company injury", McDonald's said in the lawsuit. Easterbrook, who is British, began his career with McDonald's in 1993 when he served as a finance manager in London. In 2017, Easterbrook assured McDonald's board that he and other executives were completing anti-harassment training. Advertisement According to the complaint, McDonald's launched an internal investigation into Easterbrook's relationship with a McDonald's employee last October.

McDonald's shares were little changed in premarket trading Monday in NY.

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