McDonald's Sues Former CEO
McDonald's is suing its former CEO to recover severance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Former Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook is being accused of lying to the board about sexual relationships with employees before he was fired last fall. Now, the fast-food corporation wants to recoup tens of millions it paid in severance and benefits. Easterbrook was fired in November 2019 after his conduct was investigated. The investigation found he had a short-term, consensual relationship with an employee over text and video, but Mr. Easterbrook denied any physical sexual contact.
McDonald's reopened the case after it received an anonymous tip in July. Investigators found that Easterbrook destroyed evidence about the sexual relationships and lied about his relationships. “McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values,” Chris Kempczinski, who succeeded Mr. Easterbrook as CEO in November, wrote in a companywide message Monday.
Since McDonald's decided to fire Easterbrook without cause, he received severance and benefits. The total package was potentially worth $42 million. McDonald's also alleged that Easterbrook approved a stock grant to an employee that he was in a relationship with. The grant was worth over 6 figures. The fast-food company's severance plan indicates that it can stop payments if it is determined that he could have been fired for cause.
Easterbrook has agreed that the relationship was a mistake, and believes the board was right to fire him. McDonald's filed its suit on Monday in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, stating that Mr. Easterbrook breached his fiduciary duties as a company officer and committed fraud. Now, the company wants to recover the amount it paid him in compensation and severance benefits.