Steve Easterbrook wants to be dropped from McDonald’s discrimination lawsuit

The chain’s former CEO derides a lawsuit by two Black executives as a “kitchen-sink-style” complaint that aims to “sensationalize” the case.
Photo courtesy of McDonald's Corporation

McDonald’s former CEO Steve Easterbrook is asking a federal court to drop him from a discrimination lawsuit filed by a pair of the chain’s former executives, deriding the action as a “kitchen-sink-style” complaint that aims to “sensationalize” the case.

The lawsuit, filed early this year by executives Victoria Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal and amended in September, names McDonald’s and its U.S. market, along with Easterbrook, current CEO Chris Kempczinski and Chief Field Officer for McDonald’s USA Charlie Strong.

The lawsuit accuses the company and its executives of “intentional race discrimination, disparate treatment, hostile work environment and unlawful retaliation.”

Easterbrook was CEO of McDonald’s between March 2015 and November of last year. His lawsuit argues in part that Guster-Hines and Neal worked for McDonald’s USA, “a separate and distinct legal entity” from McDonald’s Corp., of which Easterbrook is CEO.

Kempczinski oversaw McDonald’s USA until he was promoted after Easterbrook’s ouster last year. The company and Easterbrook are currently at war as McDonald’s tries clawing back its former CEO’s severance.

In his filing, Easterbrook argues that the 318-paragraph complaint “is merely an attempt to sensationalize this case and/or mask the numerous, incurable defects that compel a dismissal.”

Easterbrook argues that the complaint fails to show that Easterbrook made a decision that resulted in an “adverse employment action” for the executives. It also argues that any conduct relating to a hostile work environment “does not rise remotely to the level of severity” to support a claim.

Easterbrook also argues that the complaint doesn’t provide specific factual allegations regarding retaliation.

“It is clear that there are simply no facts that the plaintiffs can assert in good faith,” the motion says.

Guster-Hines and Neal’s lawsuit is one of a number of discrimination complaints against McDonald’s by both employees and franchisees. The executives’ lawsuit accuses Easterbrook and Kempczinski of using Strong “to carry out their ruthless humiliation and expulsion of highly qualified African Americans.”

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