• The Financial District


McDonald's is trying to recover millions in compensation it paid out to former CEO Steve Easterbrook by suing him for allegedly committing fraud and lying during the company's internal probe into his behavior, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a report from CNBC.

The fast-food chain's board announced in November that it had terminated Easterbrook for having a consensual relationship with an employee and tapped Chris Kempczinski as his successor.

"McDonald's does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values," Kempczinski wrote in a letter to the McDonald's system about the lawsuit. "These actions reflect a continued demonstration of this commitment."

McDonald's now alleges that new information about Easterbrook's actions came to light in July, prompting further investigation from the company. A probe allegedly revealed that Easterbrook lied to the company and destroyed information regarding his inappropriate behavior, including three alleged additional sexual relationships with employees before his firing. None of the employees have been named.

The complaint alleges that Easterbrook told investigators in October that he only had one relationship with an employee. 

Newly uncovered evidence includes dozens of nude or sexually explicit photos and videos of women — including images of the female employees — that were taken in late 2018 or early 2019 and sent as attachments from his corporate email account to his personal email, according to the lawsuit. Easterbrook allegedly deleted those photos and emails from his phone before it was searched by an outside investigator. 

Easterbrook also approved "an extraordinary stock grant, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars" for one of the employees while they were involved in a sexual relationship, according to the complaint. An anonymous report about an alleged relationship between Easterbrook and this employee triggered the July probe.

The board said it would not have signed a separation agreement with Easterbrook had it known about this alleged conduct. Instead, it fired him without cause in the hopes of avoiding a lengthy legal dispute with him over whether his behavior crossed into "dishonesty, fraud, illegality or moral turpitude."

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