McDonald’s ex-CEO Steve Easterbrook will have to provide much of the information he asked a court to hold back in a lawsuit in which McDonald’s alleges he lied about sex with company employees, according to a Delaware judge’s ruling this week, the Associated Press reported.
The decision in the suit — in which McDonald’s is seeking to recoup millions in severance pay that Easterbrook got after leaving the company — was made Monday by Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights Jr., who ordered Easterbrook to both provide documents and answers to inquiries made in the case by his former employer, which is working to prove its former leader violated his fiduciary duties by his actions and alleged lies about those actions.
McDonald’s let Easterbrook go about 18 months ago after he admitted to having a relationship with an employee, an act forbidden under company guidelines. McDonald’s filed suit in 2020 to recoup the money it paid him as part of its agreement with Easterbrook. The QSR alleges it found out after Easterbrook’s release that he also covered up other similar relationships and destroyed evidence of the relationships.
“With today’s ruling, we can finally move forward with our case against Steve Easterbrook and gather the evidence necessary to hold him accountable for his conduct and failure to live up to McDonald’s expectations and values,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Easterbrook’s attorney failed to respond to the Associated Press’s request for comment.
In February, Judge Slights denied Easterbrook’s motion to dismiss the case.
“While I’m sympathetic to the fact that the discovery here seeks personally sensitive information, there is little doubt that the information requested is substantively relevant to McDonald’s claims here — claims which are, by themselves, personally sensitive,” the judge said, according to the Associated Press.
With the decision, Easterbrook is compelled to answer questions about sexual relationships with employees, as well as allegations he did not disclose those or photos and videos found in his work email as well as allegations he approved a stock award for someone with whom he was having a sexual relationship.
The judge said a confidentiality order would adequately protect the identities of any such employees, and that Easterbrook would have to respond to most of McDonald’s information requests.