Former CBS Chairman/CEO Les Moonves, who resigned in September amid sexual misconduct allegations, won’t be receiving an anticipated $120 million severance payment from the company, with the network’s Board of Directors announcing Monday “grounds to terminate for cause.”
Those grounds include “his willful and material malfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation,” according to a statement released by the board.
“Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the company,” according to the board.
Moonves’ attorney, Andrew Levander, issued a statement saying, “The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit. Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this `process,’ the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy. Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
Moonves stepped down in September following a report in New Yorker magazine detailing six women’s allegations of sexual harassment involving Moonves in the 1980s and 1990s.
He released a statement at the time, saying, “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately, I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”
The allegations against Moonves led to questions about the overall corporate culture at CBS. In its statement Monday, the CBS board said investigators concluded “that harassment and retaliation are no pervasive at CBS.”
“However, the investigators learned of past incidents of improper and unprofessional conduct, and concluded that the company’s historical policies, practices and structures have not reflected a high institutional priority on preventing harassment and retaliation,” according to the board. “The investigation determined that the resources devoted to the company’s Human Resources function, to training and development and to diversity and inclusion initiatives have been inadequate, given the size and complexity of CBS’ businesses.
“Employees also cited past incidents in which HR and the company did not hold high performers accountable for their conduct and protect employees from retaliation,” according to the board’s statement.
The board stated that the company’s management is taking “robust steps to improve the working environment for all employees,” including the hiring of a “chief people officer” to overhaul the network’s human-relations functions. The company has also hired outside consultants “to develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect and inclusion.”
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