McDonald’s Corporation has sued former CEO Steve Easterbrook to recoup a $40 million severance package, saying the company found evidence on its email servers that Easterbrook was lying when he denied having sexual relationships with employees. Easterbrook initially fooled McDonald’s by deleting emails from his phone, allowing him to get the generous severance payment despite being fired, the lawsuit against him said. But months after paying him the severance package, McDonald’s checked its email servers and discovered that Easterbrook sent nude photographs of employees from his work email account, the lawsuit said.
McDonald’s said it also discovered that Easterbrook approved a stock grant “worth hundreds of thousands of dollars” for an employee he was in a sexual relationship with. McDonald’s said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday that its lawsuit aims “to recover compensation and severance benefits that would not have been retained by Mr. Easterbrook had he been terminated for cause.” The SEC filing includes a copy of the lawsuit McDonald’s filed against Easterbrook in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware.
Easterbrook was forced out at McDonald’s in November 2019 after an internal investigation found he engaged in “a non-physical, consensual relationship involving texting and video calls” with a subordinate, which violated company policy and “demonstrated poor judgment that disqualified him from continued service as the CEO,” the lawsuit said.