McDonald’s has settled a lawsuit with former CEO Steve Easterbrook, forcing the disgraced executive to repay his severance package of more than $100 million.
Easterbrook was fired in 2019 after the fast food giant’s board determined that he violated company policy by demonstrating “poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee.” In August 2020, McDonald’s filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook for lying to the board about the extent of his relationships with employees.
In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, McDonald’s criticized Easterbrook for his “misconduct, lies, and efforts to impede investigations into his actions” and that the settlement is the best path forward.
“This settlement holds Steve Easterbrook accountable for his clear misconduct, including the way in which he exploited his position as CEO,” Enrique Hernandez, Jr., the chairman of McDonald’s board of directors, said in the filing. “The resolution avoids a protracted court process and allows us to move forward.”
Easterbrook admitted in the SEC filing that he “failed at times to uphold McDonald’s values and fulfill certain of my responsibilities as a leader of the company.” He also apologized to the board, former co-workers and the company’s franchisees and suppliers.
The total amount of his severance package is $105 million in cash and stock. However, it’s not clear how much of that is stock or cash.
McDonald’s lawsuit states that the company was tipped off to Easterbrook’s other relationships with employees in July, and opened a new investigation that found proof of three sexual relationships.
The evidence for those relationships, according to the suit, came in the form of “dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women,” including photographs of the three employees. Easterbrook allegedly attached the images to emails he sent from his work to his personal account.