The McDonald’s lawsuit, filed Monday against Easterbrook, accuses him of lying, concealing evidence and fraud. The new allegations against him, the company said in a securities filing and a document filed with the Delaware Chancellery Court, came to light by an anonymous informant last month.
The company – which in the complaint invoked founder Ray Kroc’s philosophy that employees should be “ethical, honest and reliable” – said it would have fired Easterbrook “for cause” had it known the scope of his “inappropriate personal behavior”.
According to the lawsuit, new evidence shows that in addition to “physical sex” with three employees in the year before his dismissal, he was “in the middle” of one when he was fired and he was “knowingly lying” investigators.
The evidence against Easterbrook, McDonald’s said, “consisted of dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of these company employees, which Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his corporate email account to his email account ”.
The company said the emails were sent in late 2018 and early 2019.
During the investigation, according to the company, Easterbrook claimed the relationship he was fired for consisted only of texting and video calling and he assured the company that he had no other intimate relationship with the employees.
“If Easterbrook had been candid with McDonald’s investigators and not withheld evidence, McDonald’s would have known he had a legal reason to fire him in 2019,” the company said in its lawsuit.
‘Based on the results of the investigation, the board concluded that Mr. Easterbrook lied to the company and the board and destroyed information regarding inappropriate personal behavior and was in fact involved in sexual relations with three other company employees prior to his termination, all in violation of company policy, ”McDonald’s said.
Chris Kempczinski, who replaced Easterbrook as general manager, told franchisees and employees in a separate post that “McDonald’s does not condone any behavior from an employee that does not reflect our values.”
“We now know that his conduct deviated from our values in different and far more extensive ways than we knew when he left the company last year,” Kempczinski added.
Easterbrook could not be reached immediately for comment.
In an email sent to McDonald’s employees upon his release, he expressed regret for the relationship that had come to light at the time.
“Regarding my departure, I recently entered into a consensual relationship with an employee, who violated McDonald’s policy,” Easterbrook wrote. “It was a mistake. Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on. Beyond that, I hope you can respect my desire to preserve my privacy. ”
MacDonald’s also said he also took steps to prevent Easterbrook from selling the shares he granted him or exercising his remaining stock options.
“The company’s complaint alleges that Mr. Easterbrook breached his fiduciary duties as an officer and director of the company and committed inducement fraud,” the company told investors in its file. She seeks compensatory damages “for all sums paid to Mr. Easterbrook under the separation agreement and other costs and expenses incurred by the company as a result of his fault,” he added.
The lawsuit marks a radical departure from the unspoken corporate policy of the United States regarding allegations of wrongdoing and the dismissal of top executives as they seek to align with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements .
“As we reaffirm our values, now is more than ever time to build on what we stand for and act as a positive force for change,” Kempczinski noted in his memo.
Easterbrook, 53, was born in Watford and joined McDonald’s in 1993. He left in 2011 to become General Manager of Pizza Express and then Wagamama, before joining McDonald’s at its head office in Illinois as General Manager of the brand in 2013. He became executive general manager two years later.