Ex-McDonald's CEO responds, seeks to dismiss lawsuit claiming he hid employee relationships

Steve Easterbrook says McDonald's 'cannot credibly allege a breach of contract claim'

Disgraced former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook is fighting back against the company's lawsuit attempting to roll back his multimillion-dollar golden parachute.

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Easterbrook's lawyers say McDonald's claim that the company did not know about his relationships with multiple employees when offering him a separation agreement is false, Bloomberg reported.

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"McDonald's — a sophisticated entity represented by numerous internal and external experts when it entered into the separation agreement — is aware it cannot credibly allege a breach of contract claim," Easterbrook's lawyers wrote in a filing on Friday, according to Bloomberg. "Instead, it improperly seeks to manufacture claims for a breach of fiduciary duty or fraud."

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook speaks during a news conference in New York, Nov. 17, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Easterbrook's team wants McDonald's suit, which is filed in Delaware Chancery Court, thrown out, Bloomberg reported. Easterbrook's team also wants the suit moved to an Illinois court, calling Delaware "the wrong forum" — McDonald's is headquartered in Illinois but incorporated in Delaware, Bloomberg reported.

In the suit filed earlier in August, McDonald's said Easterbrook lied to preserve his severance package, which included roughly $40 million in stock-based benefits, upon his firing in 2019.

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"McDonald's stands by its complaint, both the factual assertions and the court in which it was filed," a McDonald's spokesperson told FOX Business.

McDonald's said its board would never have terminated Easterbrook "without cause," allowing him to collect the generous severance, had he not allegedly covered up sexual relationships with three employees.

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McDonald's also accuses Easterbrook of approving "a special discretionary grant of restricted stock units – worth hundreds of thousands of dollars" to an employee "shortly after their first sexual encounter and within days of their second."

Easterbrook's successor as CEO, Chris Kempczinski, sent a message to McDonald's employees on Aug. 10 about the alleged new revelation of Easterbrook's relationships.

"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," Kempczinski wrote. "While the Board made the right decision to swiftly remove him from the Company last November, this new information makes it clear that he lied and destroyed evidence regarding inappropriate personal behavior and should not have retained the contractual compensation he did upon his exit."

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Read the SEC filing containing McDonald's suit here.

This post has been updated with comment from McDonald's.

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