Mr. Easterbrook, a UK citizen who grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire, led McDonald's from March 2015 to November 2019, after previously leading its UK operations. He was widely credited with revitalizing the firm's menus, remodeling stores, and using better ingredients. The value of its shares more than doubled during his tenure in the US.
McDonald fired Mr. Easterbrook last year after finding he had a consensual relationship with an employee. Eight months had passed since McDonald’s fired its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, for sexting with a subordinate. Mr. Easterbrook had apologized and walked away with tens of millions in compensation, and the fast-food chain had moved on under a new chief executive.
Last month, a McDonald’s employee made a fresh allegation: Mr. Easterbrook had a sexual relationship with another subordinate while he was running the company. McDonald's after this allegation has taken new legal action against former chief executive Steve Easterbrook, accusing him of lying about sexual relationships with staff.
The company said it was not aware of the photographs before July 2020, despite conducting an earlier investigation of his behavior in the fall.
In legal documents filed Monday morning, McDonald's said that an internal investigation found other relationships and evidence that Easterbrook lied and destroyed records to conceal his behavior.
“The investigation confirmed that the alleged relationship had occurred and revealed that it had been a non-physical, consensual relationship involving texting and video calls," according to the complaint, which added that the relationship lasted a few weeks.
A new investigation was done after the July allegation and it was found that Easterbrook engaged in physical sexual relationships with three employees in the year before he was terminated, according to the complaint.
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," which included photographs of the three employees. Easterbrook allegedly sent the images as attachments on emails from his work to his personal account.
It says investigators found nude photographs sent from Mr. Easterbrook's company email account as well as messages showing that he approved a grant of company shares worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of the employees "shortly after their first sexual encounter". Easterbrook appeared to have deleted the emails and photos from his company phone before it was searched by independent counsel in late October 2019, according to the complaint.
However, the deletion of the emails from his phone didn't also remove them from his email account stored on the company's servers.
The company has tried to move on under Chris Kempczinski, who took over as CEO when Easterbrook was pushed out and is now trying to navigate an unsteady market amid the coronavirus pandemic.