The fast-food giant forbids bosses from having romantic relationships with subordinates, regardless of whether they directly manage them.
The divorced father-of-three had been with the company on and off for over two decades after initially joining as a manager in London in 1993. He left to become the boss of Pizza Express in 2011, followed by a stint with Wagamama, before returning to McDonald’s in 2013. He was appointed chief executive of the fast food chain in 2015.
Easterbrook addressed his misconduct in an email to staff, in which he accepted McDonald’s decision to let him go, according to BBC News.
Following a review of the situation, the McDonald’s board voted to fire the CEO on Friday, November 1. Easterbrook has also stepped down as McDonald’s president and a member of the board.
The company said the relationship was consensual but backed its decision by explaining the boss had ‘violated company policy’ and shown ‘poor judgement.’
The name of the employee involved in the relationship has not been released.
Easterbrook will be replaced by Chris Kempczinski, who most recently held the role of president of McDonald’s US. Kempczinski will take over the job with immediate effect.
In a statement, Kempczinski thanked Easterbrook for his contributions and described him as a ‘patient and helpful mentor.’
The new CEO went on to express his excitement in leading the company, saying:
We have a responsibility not only to serve great food, but to make it responsibly and to enrich the communities in which we operate.
I am energised by this challenge and look forward to guiding McDonald’s continued success.
Easterbrook has been widely credited with revitalising McDonald’s menus and restaurants by remodelling stores and using better ingredients. He also raised workers’ pay above minimum wage and gave different regions more control over their menus.
The value of McDonald’s shares more than doubled during Easterbrook’s stint in the US. Under his leadership, the company also expanded its delivery and mobile payment options to emphasise convenience.
McDonald’s is expected to release details of Easterbrook’s severance package at some point today, November 4.