Workforce.com

Former McDonald’s Worker Files Retaliation Suit Over Executive Pay Disclosure

March 31, 2009
A former McDonald’s Corp. employee filed a lawsuit against the company last week, alleging she was fired because she raised concerns about the chain’s disclosure of its executive pay.

The suit alleges Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s tried to conceal from shareholders payments for an executive’s country club memberships and the severance of another high-ranking executive on its 2007 proxy statement.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

A lawyer for Lisa Bridges, a former senior director of executive compensation at McDonald’s who filed the suit in federal court on Thursday, March 26, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The Securities and Exchange Commission increased disclosure requirements for companies in 2007, and many attempted to get around the rules, said Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate with the Corporate Library, a Portland, Maine-based company that provides corporate governance research and analysis.

“Often with perks and severances it is not just about the dollar amount but about the impression it gives shareholders,” he said. “If there is a climate of [not disclosing information], it calls into question whether that type of attitude extends beyond these possibly minor disclosure failures.”

The suit alleges McDonald’s failed to disclose that it paid for two country club memberships for Tim Fenton, the company’s head of Asia. The suit also claims McDonald’s didn’t properly detail a roughly $10.5 million severance package for Mike Roberts, a former COO who left the company in 2006.

Bridges alleges she was fired because she voiced concerns about the lack of disclosure. She is seeking damages.

Filed by David Sterrett of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

Workforce Management's online news feed is now available via Twitter