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McDonald’s Lawsuit Against Former CEO Steve Easterbrook Is Getting McMESSY

Plus, food volunteers get arrested in Kenosha, and more news to start your day

McDonald’s arches in the sky. Photo: Bikeworldtravel/Shutterstock

McDonald’s doesn’t hold back in its legal battle against former CEO

McDonald’s legal fight with its former CEO Steve Easterbrook continues to escalate, with the fast-food giant calling Easterbrook’s actions “morally bankrupt” in response to his request to dismiss the lawsuit against him.

As previously reported, Easterbrook was fired last fall for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an employee. At the time, it was believed that this consensual relationship was non-physical and the only one of its kind to occur between Easterbrook and an employee, but McDonald’s later discovered — following an anonymous tip — that Easterbrook had engaged in physical, sexual relationships with multiple employees. Consequently, the company sued Easterbrook on August 10, in an attempt to claw back a severance package estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

On August 14, Easterbrook’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that McDonald’s should have already known about the conduct that led to Easterbrook’s firing and separation agreement.

In its filing today, McDonald’s writes, “When McDonald’s investigated, its CEO lied.” Another scorching line includes the assertion that Easterbrook’s argument amounts to “he cannot be liable because, as a matter of law, he did not hide his misconduct well enough.”

A company spokesperson provided the following statement to Eater:

When McDonald’s investigated, Steve Easterbrook lied. He violated the Company’s policies, disrespected its values, and abused the trust of his co-workers, the Board, our franchisees, and our shareholders. His argument that he should not be held responsible for even repeated bad acts is morally bankrupt and fails under the law.

Recently, McDonald’s has also said that it is investigating its former head of human resources — who was recruited into his role by Easterbrook — for possible impropriety under Easterbrook, the Wall Street Journal reports. David Fairhurst, the global chief police officer, was fired last November after allegedly making women at the company feel uncomfortable on multiple occasions, McDonald’s current head of HR told employees in a meeting last week.

And in other news…

  • Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, arrested nine volunteers there to feed protesters and activists, allegedly on the basis of being in “suspicious vehicles” with out-of-state license plates. [Eater Seattle]
  • The D.C. Attorney General is suing Instacart, alleging that the grocery delivery service hasn’t paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax and has tricked customers into believing that service fees actually amounted to tips for workers. [WaPo]
  • Speaking of Instacart, shoppers say they face punishing metrics — such as the amount of time within which they have to accept an incoming order — that can determine whether or not their jobs will be terminated. [LA Times]
  • Temporary drinking bans have surged around the world because of the coronavirus. [CNN]
  • Sales of chocolate and candy, particularly premium chocolate, have spiked since mid-March. [Food Dive]
  • How Heath Ceramics, the pottery studio behind Chez Panisse’s dinnerware, is getting by in the pandemic. [Fast Company]

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