Steve Easterbrook, the British former chief executive of McDonald’s, is being sued by the company in an attempt to recover tens of millions in compensation and severance payments after new allegations of sexual misconduct emerged against him.
Easterbrook, who was fired from the company last November over a relationship with an employee, allegedly hid details of three other “physical sexual relationships” with employees in the year before he left the company, according to a lawsuit filed in Delaware.
At that time, McDonald’s listed his termination as “without cause”, signalling that the Chicago-based company considered Easterbrook’s transgressions insufficient to prevent him from receiving exit payments. Easterbrook apologized and stepped away with stock awards worth more than $37m, as well as about $675,000 in severance pay.
The McDonald’s lawsuit, filed against Easterbrook on Monday accuses him of lying, concealing evidence and fraud. The fresh allegations against him, the company said in a securities filing and a document lodged with the Delaware court of chancery, came to light via an anonymous tipster last month.
The company – which, in the complaint, invoked founder Ray Kroc’s philosophy that employees should be “ethical, truthful and dependable” – said it would have terminated Easterbrook “for cause” if it had known the extent of his “inappropriate personal behaviour”.