McDonald's Global Chief People Officer David Fairhurst has resigned the fast-food giant following the departure of CEO Steve Easterbrook. Easterbrook was fired over the weekend for having a consensual relationship with an employee.
Fairhurst was named as the Global Chief People officer in 2015, shortly after Easterbrook took over as CEO. Fairhurst's departure was announced in an internal memo signed by new CEO Chris Kempczinksi, who replaced Easterbrook.
After Fairhurst ouster, Mason Smoot, a Senior Vice President who also served as Easterbrook's chief of staff, will take his place on an interim basis.
Even so, McDonald's gave Easterbrook severance of $675,000, as well as letting him keep stock awards worth more than $37 million -- far more generous than what's usually offered to fired employees.
The reason he got severance pay was likely because he was only determined to have violated the company's policy, not broken sexual harassment law.
In departing, Easterbrook acknowledged that the relationship was a mistake. McDonald's said that the board determined he had "demonstrated poor judgment" by engaging in the consensual relationship.
CEO resignations due to inappropriate relationships with employees are nothing new. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd was fired in 2010 due to what the company said was an inappropriate relationship with an HP contractor (Hurd, who later became co-CEO at Oracle Corp., died late last month at the age of 62 due to illness).
While romantic relationships between managers and employees relationships are not illegal, many companies have no-dating policies to avoid allegations of preferential treatment or lawsuits arising from unwanted advances or sexual harassment.
Image Credits: Personnel today