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Axios reports that McDonald's is suing its former CEO, Steve Easterbrook, looking to claw back tens of millions of dollars in severance payments.

McDonald's is charging that Easterbrook "took part in and concealed undisclosed relationships with company employees," and even gave one of those employees shares in the company - all in violation of company policy.

Easterbrook was fired last year because of a consensual relationship with an employee that violated company policy.  Axios reports that "McDonald's claims that Easterbrook defrauded the company by covering up these additional relationships and wants to recuperate some $40 million in stock options and other compensation it let him keep after his ouster."

Current CEO Chris Kempczinski, in a company memo, writes, "McDonald’s does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values.  As we recommit to our values, now, more than ever, is the time to lean in to what we stand for and act as a positive force for change."

KC's View:

One might reasonably ask why McDonald's allowed a fired CEO, found to be violating company policies, to walk away with $40 million in compensation.

One also might reasonably ask if a store employee found guilty of stealing a couple of hamburgers would be treated as kindly and with the same levels of generosity.

I think we all know the answers to both questions.

Want to have policies with teeth?  Make sure that everyone knows that the same rules apply to everybody.  At this point, Easterbrook needs to be made an example of, and every other company ought to use this situation to drive the importance of such policies home.