McDonald’s says it's suing Stephen Easterbrook, the CEO it ousted last year over an inappropriate relationship with an employee, alleging Monday that he covered up relationships with other employees and destroyed evidence.
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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.
McDonald’s fired Easterbrook last November after he acknowledged exchanging videos and text messages with an employee. Easterbrook told the company that there were no other similar instances.
At the time, the company said Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment, and that McDonald’s forbids managers from having relationships with direct or indirect subordinates.
Based on what the company knew at the time, McDonald’s board approved a separation agreement “without cause” that allowed Easterbrook to keep around $40 million in stock-based benefits plus 26 weeks of pay, amounting to compensation of about $670,000.
McDonald’s says in a lawsuit that it has since become aware of sexual relationships between Easterbrook and three other employees prior to his termination. The company said Monday that Easterbrook removed evidence of those relationships from his cell phone, preventing investigators from learning about them prior to his firing.
If the company had known about the additional relationships, McDonald's says it would not have terminated Easterbrook without cause.
Now, the company is trying to block Easterbrook from exercising his stock options and will seek compensatory damages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.