Former McDonald’s chief executive has handed back over $100m (£75m) to the fast-food chain as he settles out of court over his 2019 dismissal.
Steve Easterbrook was fired “without cause” from McDonalds after he had a relationship with one of his employees, and was subsequently sued by the company for lying in the process of this investigation.
It was suggested by an anonymous tip that Easterbrook had engaged in three “physical sexual relationships” with subordinates during his time as chief exec, including giving one woman a stock grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to reports by the Financial Times.
This raised investor question marks over the company’s handling of Easterbrook’s exit package, which included a $40m (£30m) severance package, sparking McDonalds to reopen the investigation and pursue a legal claim.
The lawsuit progressed against Easterbrook, which sought to change the reason for Easterbrook’s removal to “for cause”, thereby allowing the company to recoup its severance payments.
To avoid going to trial, the British former executive took part in a huge return of awards to settle the case today, returning equity awards and cash worth more than $105m (£79m).
This sum of money reflects what “he would have forfeited had he been truthful at the time of his termination and, as a result, been terminated for cause”, said Enrique Hernandez, chair of the McDonald’s board, in a statement today.
“This settlement holds Steve Easterbrook accountable for his clear misconduct, including the way in which he exploited his position as CEO”, he added.
Easterbrook was chief exec of McDonalds from 2015 to 2019, and previously headed up Wagamama and PizzaExpress.