22 April 2019
CBS says its former CEO Leslie Moonves has been fired for cause, so there won't be any severance package. Photo: Reuters
CBS says its former CEO Leslie Moonves has been fired for cause, so there won't be any severance package. Photo: Reuters

CBS denies former CEO Moonves US$120 mln severance package

CBS Corp said on Monday that its former CEO Leslie Moonves will not receive a US$120 million severance package as the firm has determined that there were ample reasons to fire him for cause.

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation,” CBS’ board of directors said in a statement, Reuters reports.

Following an investigation into Moonves, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault that allegedly took place before and after he joined the company, CBS said it found that its former CEO misled the firm about multiple allegations and tried to hide evidence.

Hence, Moonves has been fired for cause and is being denied a US$120 million exit payout. 

The decision to deprive Moonves of his severance follows a board of directors review of the findings of an investigation conducted by two law firms hired by CBS.

The law firms had been tasked with looking into Moonves’ behavior and the CBS culture.

A draft report of the investigation, which was leaked to the New York Times this month, accused Moonves of destroying evidence and seeking to mollify accusers with promises of jobs at CBS.

The report also included more accusations that Moonves advanced the careers of women who had sex with him and more accusers beyond the 12 disclosed in two New Yorker investigations that led to Moonves’ forced resignation in September.

Moonves has denied any wrongdoing and has described his sexual encounters as consensual.

“Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators,” Moonves’s attorney Andrew Levander, said in a statement, adding that the conclusions of the CBS board were “foreordained and are without merit.”

It was not immediately clear if Moonves plans to take legal action against CBS, Reuters said.

The CBS board said investigators found that harassment and retaliation were not pervasive at CBS but found that its policies and practices failed to prevent past incidents.

CBS suspended Charlie Rose, co-anchor of CBS’s morning show and “60 Minutes” in November 2017 after several women accused him of harassment and misconduct and fired him last September.

Jeff Fager, “60 Minutes” executive producer, was also fired in September after threatening a CBS News reporter investigating allegations of harassment of colleagues.

Investigators did find that the company failed to hold “high performers” accountable for their conduct, the board said.

Last week, CBS named 18 recipients of a US$20 million donation drawn from Moonves’s severance to support eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace.

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