McDonald’s terminates CEO

On Nov. 3, the Board of Directors of McDonald’s dismissed CEO Steve Easterbrook due to evidence that he had a consensual relationship with an employee, which is against company policy.

In a statement, the board declared that they had determined Easterbrook “demonstrated poor judgement.”

Easterbrook expressed his assent in an email sent to employees. 

“Given the values of the company, I agree with the Board that it is time for me to move on,” Easterbrook said.

During his tenure, Easterbrook was noted for reversing the company’s financial downturn, revolutionizing McDonald’s use of technology by investing in machine-learning and AI for drive-thrus and brokering deals with the food delivery apps DoorDash and Uber Eats (CNN). Last year, Easterbrook had a salary of more than $15 million. According to compensation firm Equilar, his severance package was $42 million, which was decried by Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“McDonald’s former CEO violated company policy and was awarded almost $42 million,” she tweeted. “Meanwhile, there are hardworking McDonald’s employees who deal with low wages and retaliation for reporting sexual assault.”

Students and staff at Guilford College were perplexed when the news of Easterbrook’s dismissal was released.

“If the relationship was consensual, why would he step down as CEO? There shouldn’t be a reason for him to step down,” said senior Tyreek Speller, a criminal justice major.

Junior Misty Martin also commented on the dismissal. 

“At first I was kind of worried, but then I realized it had to do with company policy,” Martin said.

Shane Welch, a dining supervisor with Meriwether Godsey, noted that families work together all the time and that there should not be an issue if the relationship is consensual. 

In the wake of #MeToo, McDonald’s workers have staged protests across the country, citing a persistent culture of workplace sexual harassment occuring within franchises.

These protests were led by Fight For $15, a group affiliated with the Service Employees International Union that organizes fast food workers and others advocating for better pay and working conditions within the fast food industry.

Tanya Harrell, a McDonald’s worker from New Orleans who helped lead Fight For $15, observed that McDonald’s declined multiple opportunities to sit down with workers or meet their demands.

“With the firing of Steve Easterbrook, we now know why,” Harrell said. “It’s clear McDonald’s culture is rotten from top to bottom. McDonald’s needs to sit down with worker-survivors and put them at the center of any solution.”


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 6 of The Guilfordian on Nov. 15 2019.