MCDONALD’S sacked chief executive previously had a relationship with a woman working on a PR account for the burger chain, it was revealed.
Divorced Brit Steve Easterbrook, 52, was fired from McDonald’s last week over a consensual fling with a colleague.
Now it has also emerged that several years ago, before Easterbrook became McDonald’s chief executive, he had a relationship with PR exec Denise Paleothodoros.
Ms Paleothodoros is not the latest woman he was fired for having a relationship with.
But she was a staffer at Golin, a public relations firm owned by Interpublic Group of Cos, that did work for McDonald’s – where he was employed.
Ms Paleothodoros, currently an executive director at Golin, told the Wall Street Journal: “Steve and I were in a relationship and that ended amicably a while ago.”
When Easterbrook became CEO at McDonald’s in March 2015, the board determined that the relationship with Ms Paleothodoros didn’t violate company policy and signed it off.
She was also removed from the McDonald’s PR account.
The public relations firm said that, at the time, Easterbrook “had no working relationship with our firm” and didn’t oversee public relations. Easterbrook and the woman dated for more than two years.
His latest consensual relationship with another female employee was brought to the attention of senior staff just three weeks ago, it emerged.
McDonald’s says it's suing Easterbrook, alleging that he covered up relationships and destroyed evidence.
After an internal investigation, the company’s general counsel, Jerry Krulewitch, is said to have informed the McDonald’s board of the matter, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The board hired New York City law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz to assess the legal risk from the relationship.
Members of the board were said to have concluded that the relationship between Easterbrook, and the unidentified employee was short-term and consensual.
But the situation raised questions about Easterbrook’s judgment regarding his personal affairs and corporate conduct in the board’s view, one source told the newspaper.
McDonald’s has a longstanding policy against its employees having relationships with direct and indirect reports at all levels.
Board members held lengthy discussions and meetings and ultimately voted unanimously to fire Easterbrook.
He agreed to a settlement on October 31 and his employment was terminated the next day.
The Watford-born businessman is estimated to take home up to £54million in pay, bonuses and shares from his time at McDonald’s.
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