Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald's, speaks during the reopening of McDonald's Flagship Restaurant at Frankfurt International Airport, Terminal 2, March 30, 2015 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Hannelore Foerster | Getty Images
McDonald's first learned of former CEO Steve Easterbrook's relationship with an employee about three weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Chicago-based company for having a consensus relationship with a female employee, a violation of the company's non-fraternization policy. Chris Kempczinski, former McDonald's U.S. President, is the chain's new CEO.
People familiar with the case told the reporter that the company's attorney general Jerry Krulewitch informed McDonald's board of the case after an internal investigation. The board hired a law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, to assess the legal risk, it reported.
The board concluded that the relationship between Easterbrook and the employee was short-term and consensual, according to the newspaper. However, questions were also raised about his verdict in the board's view, a person familiar with the case told the Journal.
McDonald's declined to comment on the report.
Read more about the company's investigation of Easterbrook here.
—CNBC's Kate Rogers contributed to this report.