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McDonald's HR boss David Fairhurst 'sacked for making women uncomfortable'

The British head of global HR at McDonald’s was sacked for making women at the firm ‘feel uncomfortable’, it is alleged.

David Fairhurst, who was promoted to McDonald’s ‘chief people officer’ in 2015 by fellow Brit Steve Easterbrook, was suddenly sacked last year after Easterbrook was also dismissed for having a relationship with at least one employee.

At the time no reason was given for Fairhurst’s dismissal and his family claimed he had been made a ‘scape-goat’ for his boss, but allegations have now emerged that the Wigan-born executive was also the subject of complaints from members of staff.

David Fairhurst

David Fairhurst

David Fairhurst, McDonald’s head of HR until he was fired for unknown reasons last year, has been accused by an internal investigation of making women at the company ‘uncomfortable’

Heidi Capozzi, the new head of McDonald’s HR, told staff during a meeting last week that Fairhurst was fired for ‘making women at the company feel uncomfortable on numerous occasions at business events’, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sources separately told the paper that Fairhurst had contributed to a ‘party culture’ under Easterbrook’s tenure.

Fairhurst was sacked after the company received a complaint about his behavior around women at the company, the paper reported, without saying exactly what the complaint was.

The HR boss did not respond to requests for comment from the Wall Street Journal.

At the time of his departure last year, he posted a message on LinkedIn saying that he was ‘moving on to my next career challenge’, without elaborating.

Fairhurst was promoted to HR boss by Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's CEO until he was sacked over relationships with staff (pictured with a PR executive he had an affair with)

Fairhurst was promoted to HR boss by Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO until he was sacked over relationships with staff (pictured with a PR executive he had an affair with)

Fairhurst is now thought to be at the center of a McDonald’s investigation into Easterbrook’s tenure as company CEO. 

Members of staff said they felt complaints to the HR department were ignored, while others feared retaliation if they complained to the firm’s executives, WSJ reported.

‘The board will follow the facts wherever they may lead,’ McDonald’s said in a statement to DailyMail.com.

Easterbrook rose to the very top of the McDonald’s management structure in 2015, having worked his way up from a store manager job he took back in 1993.

Shortly after being flown to company HQ in Chicago to start his new job, he promoted Fairhurst – who he had previously worked with in the UK – to head of HR.

The two ran the company until November last year, when Easterbrook was sacked after having a consensual relationship with a female employee.

McDonald’s company policy forbids any relationships between managers and either direct or indirect subordinates.

Despite being fired, Easterbrook was allowed to keep hold of $40million in bonuses and stock after telling McDonald’s that no other relationships had taken place.

But McDonald’s is now suing their former CEO, saying an internal investigation has uncovered relationships with at least three more employees.

The company says a tip-off led them to servers where nude and partially nude images and videos of members of staff were being stored.

The files had originally been sent to Easterbrook’s work phone and email account, but had been deleted. They were archived on the server without his knowledge.

McDonald's is now suing Easterbrook amid allegations had had affairs with up to four staff members, while also investigating the HR culture during his time at the head of the firm

McDonald’s is now suing Easterbrook amid allegations had had affairs with up to four staff members, while also investigating the HR culture during his time at the head of the firm

McDonald’s has accused Easterbrook of deleting the files in order to hide the relationships, and then of lying to investigators about them.

Easterbrook has since filed a motion against the company, saying it knew about the other relationships when negotiating his severance package.

McDonald’s has asked the court to dismiss his motion. 

It has also been revealed that Easterbrook had another relationship with a female PR representative who was recruited by McDonald’s before becoming CEO.

He is thought to have dated Denise Paleothodoros for two years until the relationship came to light in 2015, the same year he was promoted to CEO.

McDonald’s was aware of the relationship, but concluded it did not violate policy.

After the affair was revealed, Miss Paleothodoros’s employers, Golin, moved her to another account.

Easterbrook was married to wife Susie and the couple have three children, though it is not clear when they separated.

At the time of his departure, Easterbrook sent an email to staff saying: ‘Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is the time to move on.’  

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