McDonald's Just Won A Ton Of Money From Its Former CEO In A Lawsuit

In late 2019, McDonald's then-CEO Steve Easterbrook was dismissed from his duties after an investigation conducted by the McDonald's board of directors probed into a consensual relationship he had with an undisclosed subordinate, an action prohibited by company policy (via AP News). At the time, Easterbrook admitted the relationship was a mistake, also stating in an email, "I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on."

But the plot thickens. In 2020, McDonald's received additional information about Easterbrook's misconduct, and the board claimed that he had not only had relations with at least three employees (relationships that all occurred during his final year as CEO, per The New York Times), he had also lied about the affairs and even destroyed evidence of them, including deleting emails from his phone. In August 2020, McDonald's filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook, asserting that he should return his severance package currently worth $105 million in equity and cash (via CNBC).

Steve Easterbrook will return his huge severance package after settlement

Today, McDonald's published a statement saying that the company had won its lawsuit against former CEO Steve Easterbrook in a settlement. He will be forced to pay back the $105 million severance package, which McDonald's claims would not have been originally awarded to him if the board had been aware of his lies when he was let go in 2019.

"This settlement holds Steve Easterbrook accountable for his clear misconduct, including the way in which he exploited his position as CEO," stated Enrique Hernandez, Jr., McDonald's chairman of the Board of Directors. Easterbrook again apologized for his actions, stating in part, "McDonald's and its Board of Directors value doing the right thing and putting customers and people first. During my tenure as CEO, I failed at times to uphold McDonald's values and fulfill certain of my responsibilities as a leader of the company." Let's hope this outcome urges higher-ups of companies everywhere not to exploit their power.