McDonald's CEO fired: Steve Easterbrook out of consensus relationship with an employee, the company says

The board voted Friday to remove Easterbrook after a review, concluding that it violated the company's policy on management relationships with direct or indirect reports, the company said. Easterbrook has been replaced by Chris Kempczinski, former president of McDonald's USA.

Easterbrook called his recent relationship with an employee "a mistake" in an email to McDonald's employees.

"Given the company's values, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move forward," he wrote.

Desiree Moore, a Chicago-based attorney who served as spokeswoman for Easterbrook, said in a statement that he is "deeply grateful for his time at McDonald's."

"He acknowledges his error in the verdict and supports the company's decision, "Moore said, adding that Easterbrook will not comment further.

Details of Easterbrook's farewell package will be released by Tuesday in a federal filing, the company said.

McDonald's has not shared further details about the relationship that led to the shooting. Easterbrook, a former head of the company's operations in the United Kingdom, is divorced, according to the Sunday Times.

He joins a growing list of chief executives being forced out over relationships with employees, as several companies implement rules against dating subordinates in the # MeToo era

"We see significantly more interest" in these guidelines, Jonathan Segal, a Philadelphia employment lawyer, told The Washington Post last year after Intel's chief executive resigned to violate the company's rules of consensus. [1[ads1]9659002] "I see more companies asking about them," Segal said. "I see more companies add them to the harassment policy. I've seen more companies look at them in their code of conduct."

Easterbrook became CEO in 2015 when McDonald's struggled to retain customers. After the chain announcing a fall in US sales as well as a 33 percent drop in global profits in the first quarter of that year, he pledged a plan to "better meet today's consumer needs, expectations, and the competitive marketplace."

McDonald's shares rose under Easterbrook's leadership, and the company retains its position at the top of US fast food sales, despite the industry's challenges. Last year, Easterbrook – who is also on the board of Walmart – received $ 15.9 million in salary.

Easterbrook pushed McDonald's forward from a tough time, said Jonathan Maze, editor of Restaurant Business, improving sales – still up this year – and restructuring the company, accelerating the decision and cut hundreds of millions in fixed costs, Maze said.

He also embraced technology in the form of in-store kiosks, online delivery of orders, and in March, a $ 300 million acquisition intended to increase the speed of McDonald's transit services.

"He has been quite consequential," said Maze, who considers the Easterbrooks shooting as part of a trend of companies taking breach of relationship policy "much more serious" than they used to.

Kempczinski became the head of McDonald's USA in 2016. Easterbrook told staff that Kempczinski was "an important partner to me for the past four years and … the ideal person to assume the role of CEO." [19659002] McDonald's also praised Kempczinski's contribution. The company will pay Kempczinski a base salary of $ 1.25 million. He could earn up to $ 2.1 million in annual bonuses, according to Sec urities and Exchange Commission archings.

"Chris was instrumental in developing the company's strategic plan, which has enabled global growth and leadership, and oversaw the most comprehensive transformation of American business in McDonald's history," Enrique Hernandez Jr. , chairman of the chain, said in a statement.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kempczinski said he will continue Easterbrook's investments in technology and looks forward to discussing franchisees' concerns.

"There will be no radical, strategic shift," he told the Journal on Sunday. "The plan works."

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