The Continuing Saga of McDonald’s Ex-CEO

According to court documents from the US, ousted McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook has said he deserves to keep his severance package because he hasn’t violated the terms of the agreement.

McDonald’s is currently in a back-and-forth legal battle with Easterbrook in which the fast-food giant is attempting to recoup the former CEO’s severance package. That payout is estimated to be about $57.3 million, according to data firm Equilar.

Easterbrook was fired in November without cause after it was revealed he had a consensual relationship with an employee. In August, McDonald’s filed a lawsuit alleging that Easterbrook hid three sexual relationships and approved a stock grant worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for one of those workers.

After receiving an anonymous tip in July, a further investigation found dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photos and videos of women that Easterbrook sent as attachments to messages from his McDonald’s email to his personal account. All the photos were taken between late 2018 and early 2019.

The company accused Easterbrook of deleting messages from his phone, but not removing them from the servers. The chain is adamant that if it had known about the multiple affairs at the time of the separation agreement, it wouldn’t have agreed to the terms.

“Steve Easterbrook lied and destroyed evidence to conceal his inappropriate conduct and impede the investigation into his behaviour,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “He cannot hide behind baseless technical arguments.”

In addition to the fight over the severance, McDonald’s is also investigating whether Easterbrook covered up for other employees and looking into misconduct within the human resources department.

The company said it is now partnering with a consulting firm to conduct surveys and interviews with workers in order to provide “a better understanding of both the bright spots and blind spots we have around our values.”