Mcdonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCD) has opened legal proceedings against ousted Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Easterbrook. The fast-food giant is suing the former CEO amid allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships involving an employee. The former executive is also accused of covering up relationships involving three other employees in addition to destroying evidence.
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon received an anonymous tip indicating that Easterbrook was engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with another employee. It is also alleged that the former CEO removed evidence of those relationships by deleting sexually explicit photos and videos from corporate email accounts in a bid to prevent investigators from learning about them.
In a press release, McDonald maintains it does not condone behavior from employees that does not reflect its values. Likewise, the company intends to recoup millions of dollars paid to Easterbrook in compensation upon being fired.
McDonald’s is not new to lawsuits over sexual harassment. In the past, more than 50 workers have filed sexual harassment lawsuits with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Easterbrook was forced to step down last year, after admitting to sending videos and text messages in a non-physical and consensual relationship with an employee.
The former CEO was allowed to step down with the board approving separation agreement. The executive was allowed to keep nearly $42 million in stock-based benefits, having also collected 26 weeks of pay amounting to $676,000.
The Easterbrook lawsuit is a major suit that could help the company set the record straight over zero tolerance to sexual harassment. Leaders supporting higher wages and unions have since urged the company to use money recouped from the Easterbrook case to strengthen worker-led programs and combat sexual harassment.
The Easterbrook case represents an extraordinary departure from what American corporations are used to when faced with such allegations. Often, the corporations would disclose such inappropriate behavior and move on decorum. In most cases, chief executives entangled in sexual harassment charges end up losing their jobs and depart quietly without facing legal retribution.