McDonald’s has either fired CEO Steve Easterbrook or forced him to resign (it’s unclear which) after it was determined that he had a sexual relationship with an employee, and thus a subordinate. The relationship was determined to be “consensual,” to the extent a non-workplace, intimate relationship with a superior who controls your livelihood and professional advancement can ever be regarded as truly consensual. The position of Ethics Alarms is that it can not be; this was once the official position of the National Organization for Women until the principle threatened the tenure of Bill Clinton in the White House, whereupon Gloria Steinem suddenly declared that such relationships were swell.
“Mickey D’s” Board of Directors found Easterbrook had “demonstrated poor judgement,” the company announced today, and had violated written company policy. Easterbrook, 52 years old, had seen the company’s shares nearly double in value since he became chief executive in March 2015. The board therefore definitively rejected the King’s Pass, sending an unequivocal message to other managers that treating the workplace as their personal dating bar wouldn’t be tolerated no matter how important they were or how effective they were at their jobs.
This is how this kind of situation should always be handled, but, sadly, often is not. From Bill Clinton to Kevin Spacey, from Katie Hill to ex-Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, from all the movie and stage directors who sleep with their actors and all the doctors who date their nurses, from Harvey Weinstein to the latest episode, the allegations against the non-voting House of Representatives delegate from Guam, this principle should not be hard to grasp.
It is, though, because the boss’s presumed privilege of using his (or her) power and position to spice up his sex life has existed for so long as a vestige of the power of kings over their court, and lords of the manor over their serfs. (Easterbrook is British, coincidentally.) When I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, its president, the immediate predecessor to the Chamber’s current head, was married to his secretary, and no, the marriage came after the job. That sends a pretty clear message to the organization, don’t you you think?
I don’t want to pick on the Chamber, for it was hardly alone in this. Many organizations still have no policies against vertical dating in the workplace, maybe most; I haven’t seen the data.
Easterbrook has been replaced with Chris Kempczinski, previously the president of McDonald’s USA, the company said. Maybe this high-profile sacking will make other companies and organizations catch up, and protect its employees by installing strict “The workplace isn’t your dating bar” policies.
I would like to add that maybe it will spur the mainstream media and progressives to stop making excuses for Katie Hill, but I’m not that naive.