According to the new lawsuit filed today Monday August 10, Easterbrook misled investigators when he was being investigated about engaging in a relationship with staffers.
The suit alleges that the former CEO claimed his relationship with an employee wasn’t physical saying it involved sexting and video calls which made the company to give him an exit package of about $40 million.
Now, McDonald’s is suing Easterbrook for the amount of his $40 million exit package arguing he got it by lying.
The company cut ties with Easterbrook in November. At the time, McDonald’s board said the executive had violated company policy and “demonstrated poor judgment” by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee.
In the suit, McDonald’s said that an internal investigation found other relationships and evidence that Easterbrook lied and destroyed records to conceal his behavior.
The document alleges that Easterbrook said this relationship was “the only one of an intimate nature” that he had ever maintained with an employee. He also allegedly said that he’d never had a physical sexual relationship with someone who worked for him.’
But McDonalds reopened the investigation after it got an anonymous report in July alleging that Easterbrook had a physical sexual relationship with an employee while he was CEO.
The new investigation found that Easterbrook engaged in physical sexual relationships with three employees in the year before he was terminated.
The evidence for those relationships, according to the suit, came in the form of “dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women,” which included photographs of the three employees. Easterbrook allegedly sent the images as attachments on emails from his work to his personal account, the complaint says.
The investigation also found that Easterbrook “approved an extraordinary stock grant, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, for one of those employees in the midst of their sexual relationship,”
The company alleges that by lying to the board, Easterbrook led them to believe that his firing could be considered “without cause.” entitling Easterbrook to certain outgoing benefits.
As part of the terms of his exit, Easterbrook was promised 26 weeks severance pay, in addition to prorated bonuses as warranted. Those benefits amounted to about $42 million.
Chris Kempczinski, who replaced Easterbrook in November 2019, sent a letter today to employees commenting on the lawsuit.
“We recently became aware, through an employee report, of new information regarding the conduct of our former CEO, Steve Easterbrook. We now know that his conduct deviated from our values in different and far more extensive ways than we were aware when he left the company last year,” he said.
“McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values.”