Former CBS chairman and C.E.O. Leslie Moonves will not receive severance pay, the companys board of directors announced on Monday, after concluding an investigation into extensive charges of sexual misconduct. (At the time of his resignation, Moonves denied the accusations that had been made against him, saying, “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.”)
“With regard to Mr. Moonves, 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 companys investigation. Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the company,” the board said in a statement.
Since Moonves resigned in September, there has been widespread speculation about whether CBS would deny the disgraced network boss his $120 million payout, and when they would release results of their internal investigation. According to a copy of the report leaked to The New York Times, Moonves deliberately misled investigators and destroyed evidence, which would be grounds to terminate him for cause. The investigators interviewed 11 of the 17 women who are known to have accused Moonves of sexual misconduct.
Moonvess attorney, Andrew Levander, offered the following: “The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit. Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated 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 nonconsensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
The CBS board statement noted that “the investigators also concluded that harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS,” something that does not exactly square with the stream of accusations that have emerged in recent months. The list of CBS Corp. employees subject to abuse or harassment allegations is long; it includes 60 Minutes and CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose, accused by more than 30 women of sexual harassment (Rose responded to the initial claims with an apology statement that denied the accuracy of some claims; he wrote, in part, “I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”); 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, and N.C.I.S.: New Orleans show-runner Brad Kern (Fager has denied the allegations; Kern has declined to comment on the allegations). The most recent case surfaced last week with the Timess examination of the draft report. It alleged that CBS had paid a $9.5 million settlement to actress Eliza Dushku after she told execs that she had been sexually harassed on the show Bull by its star, Michael Weatherly—and then had been written off the series, seemingly in retaliation. (Weatherly admitted to making inappropriate remarks but denied involvement in getting Dushku fired.)
The statement does note that “the companys historical policies, practices, and structures have not reflected a high institutional priority on preventing harassment and retaliation” and vowed that “new management have already begun to take robust steps to improve the working environment for all employees. Among other things, the company appointed a new Chief People Officer, is actively engaged in ways to enhance and reimagine the human-resources function, and has retained outside expert advisers to develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect, and inclusion.”
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Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Joy PressJoy Press is a T.V. Correspondent for Vanity Fair. Her book, Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, was released in February.