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Former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook in September.

Alyssa Schukar/The Associated Press

McDonald’s chief executive officer has left the company after violating company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, the corporation said Sunday.

The fast food giant said former president and chief executive Steve Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment. McDonald’s forbids managers from having romantic relationships with direct or indirect reports.

In an e-mail to employees, Mr. Easterbrook acknowledged he had a relationship with an employee and said it was a mistake.

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“Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,” Mr. Easterbrook said.

McDonald’s board of directors voted on Mr. Easterbrook’s departure on Friday after conducting a thorough review. Details of Mr. Easterbrook’s separation package will be released on Monday in a federal filing, according to a company spokesperson. Mr. Easterbrook was CEO since 2015.

The board of directors named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and CEO.

Two weeks ago, McDonald’s reported a 2-per-cent drop in net income for the third quarter as it spent heavily on store remodelling and expanded delivery service. The company’s share price has dropped 7.5 per cent since, although it’s still up 9.2 per cent for the year. The leadership transition is unrelated to the company’s operational or financial performance, the company said in a news release.

Mr. Kempczinski joined McDonald’s in 2015. He was responsible for approximately 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States/ He was instrumental in the development of McDonald’s strategic plan and oversaw the most comprehensive transformation of the U.S. business in McDonald’s history, said Enrique Hernandez, chairman of McDonald’s board, in a statement.

Mr. Kempczinski described Mr. Easterbrook as a mentor.