Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in articles for the New York Times, the Associated Press, and CNBC about the abrupt firing of McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Easterbrook, over a consensual relationship he had with an employee.
Easterbrook, widely considered a successful executive for his management of the fast food chain, was fired over the weekend after the board conducted an investigation and found that his relationship violated company policy.
Workplace relationships can be complicated, but many companies have taken a clear stance and forbid managers and executives from having relationships with subordinates, eliminating the possibility for favoritism or retaliation if the relationship ends.
While McDonald’s described Easterbrook’s relationship as consensual, his position as CEO would make it difficult for any other employee to say no.
“Companies in the aftermath of #MeToo have really understood that there’s an inherent power differential and what’s perceived to be consensual in the eyes of the executive may not be with the subordinate,” Ms. Katz explained to the Times.
It’s common for romantic relationships to happen at work, but in the #MeToo era, more companies are drawing a clear line that dating a subordinate is unacceptable. As Ms. Katz shared with the Post, “The #MeToo movement has shown how quickly it can go from consensual in the beginning to a huge problem when the relationship goes awry.”