In early November 2019, it was reported that McDonald’s board of director terminated its relationship with Steve Easterbrook, the fast-food chain’s CEO at the time. The board’s reason for firing Easterbrook was due to his “demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee.”
At the time of his termination, Easterbrook, who was divorced from his wife, said, “As for my departure, I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy.” The ex-CEO continued, “This was a mistake. Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on. Beyond this, I hope you can respect my desire to maintain my privacy.”
New serious allegations were later raised by a corporate-insider tipster. Easterbrook was accused of engaging in sexual relationships with a number of other McDonald’s employees and covering up his actions. The evidence, according to the company, prompted a lawsuit filed against the fired CEO. The allegations included dozens of explicit photographs and videos of different women, including some McDonald’s employees. Easterbrook allegedly sent these images as attachments to his personal email account from his work account.
That wasn’t the end of the juicy saga. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s internal investigation is also looking into whether Easterbrook covered up improprieties by other employees. There are “allegations of potential misconduct within the human resources department.” According to WSJ, “HR leaders under Mr. Easterbrook ignored complaints about the conduct of co-workers and executives. Some of those people said they feared retaliation for reporting the conduct of co-workers and executives to HR.”
McDonalds has stated, “The board will follow the facts wherever they may lead.” Easterbrook claimed in response that the company had information about his relationships with other employees when it negotiated his severance.
David Fairhurst, McDonald’s chief people officer that was handpicked by Easterbrook, was accused of socializing with employees outside of the office. Allegedly, during a holiday party for the HR department in 2018, an employee complained that “some staffers drank heavily and that the HR chief and one of his subordinates made inappropriate physical contact.”
It was further reported that “former managers and employees described feeling left out of advancement opportunities in departments, including HR, because they weren’t part of an after-hours social circle among HR leaders.” Concerns were raised about favoritism in the HR department. Subsequently, Fairhurst left the company after Easterbrook’s departure.
In an effort to turn things around, Heidi Capozzi was recruited to be McDonald’s global chief people officer. Capozzi will embark upon reviewing the human resources department’s policies and procedures and investigate the complaints that have been raised.
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