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McDonald’s chief steps down after relationship with employee

Steve Easterbrook, who had been McDonald’s president and chief executive, left the company after having a consensual relationship with an employee.Richard Drew/File 2017/Associated Press

NEW YORK — McDonald’s chief executive left the company after violating company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, the corporation said Sunday.

The fast food giant said former president and CEO Steve Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment. McDonald’s forbids managers from having romantic relationships with direct or indirect reports.

In an e-mail to employees, Easterbrook acknowledged he had a relationship with an employee and said it was a mistake.

‘‘Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,’’ Easterbrook said in the e-mail.

McDonald’s board of directors voted on Easterbrook’s departure Friday after conducting a thorough review. Details of Easterbrook’s separation package will be released Monday in a federal filing, according to a company spokesperson.


The board of directors named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and chief executive.

Kempczinski was instrumental in the development of McDonald’s strategic plan and oversaw the most comprehensive transformation of the US business in McDonald’s history, said Enrique Hernandez, chairman of McDonald’s board, in a statement.

‘‘Steve brought me into McDonald’s and he was a patient and helpful mentor,’’ Kempczinski said, thanking him for his contributions.