Steve Easterbrook, the former CEO of McDonald’s, was fired from the company in 2019. At the time, his removal from the position was considered “without cause.” His removal was related to text messages sent to an employee. He had a consensual and non-physical relationship with the employee. However, new details emerged about Easterbrook in July 2020.
McDonald's investigated an anonymous tip that led to the discovery that Easterbrook had multiple sexual relationships with McDonald’s employees during his tenure. The lawsuit that followed has been resolved and Easterbrook is returning $105 million in stock equity and cash that were part of his severance package.
Steve Easterbrook’s had a series of relationships while he was McDonald's CEO.
When Easterbrook was originally let go from the fast-food giant in 2019, the company approved a “without cause” separation agreement. Because he was legally considered to have been fired without cause, Easterbrook was allowed to retain millions of dollars in stock-based benefits.
At the time, Easterbrook acknowledged having exchanged text messages and videos with an employee (a subordinate). NPR said in August 2020 that this relationship “amounted to sexting” and that his exit payout consisted of six months’ severance pay plus company shares and equity.
According to NPR, it was later discovered that Easterbrook had attached “dozens of nude, partially nude, or explicitly sexual photographs and videos of various women” to emails using his corporate account.
When he was fired in 2019, Easterbrook removed evidence of the other sexual relationships from his phone. McDonald’s confirmed that Easterbrook had at least three sexual relationships with employees while working as the CEO.
Steve Easterbrook is divorced.
The ousted McDonald’s executive was married to Susie Jennings, but the two divorced in 2015. They have three daughters together.
Does Steve Easterbrook have a girlfriend?
Denise Paleothodorus, a former PR executive, is Easterbrook’s ex-girlfriend who was with him from 2014–2018, according to The Daily Mail. She has spoken publicly about their relationship and claimed that they both disclosed their relationship to their respective companies. They met while Easterbrook was in the process of divorcing his wife.
It isn't known whether Easterbrook has a girlfriend or is currently in a relationship.
How much did Easterbook have to pay McDonald's?
McDonald’s filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook in August 2020 after an anonymous tip led to the discovery that his relationships with employees had gone further than he had said.
ABC7 Chicago reported that Easterbrook has paid back at least $105 million to McDonald’s.
The chairman of McDonald’s board of directors, Enrique Hernandez, Jr., said, “This settlement holds Steve Easterbrook accountable for his clear misconduct, including the way in which he exploited his position as CEO.”
McDonald’s has faced other sexual harassment issues.
Easterbrook’s saga isn't the only instance of McDonald’s executives behaving inappropriately, according to multiple other allegations. In October, employees of McDonald’s in at least 10 cities walked off the job to protest how the company handles workplace sexual harassment claims.
According to Forbes, that was the fifth employee strike in recent years related to sexual harassment claims. In April, McDonald’s announced mandatory employee training to prevent workplace harassment and violence.