Les Moonves has decided to fight.
The former CBS top executive who got canned months ago in the wake of charges of sexual misconduct is vowing to fight the network’s attempt to avoid paying him a $120 million severance package.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Moonves will take the scandal before an arbitrator, a right guaranteed him under the terms of his contract.
Among the sensational charges that got Moonves into hot water is that he pressured several of his staffers to perform oral sex on him.
For his part, Moonves has insisted that the contact was consensual, and that he has willingly cooperated with investigators brought in by CBS. The investigation into the matter ended on December 17, with the network announcing that Moonves would not receive any severance payment.
As the board said in a press statement, “We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause.” The statement went on to label Moonves’ allegedly “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.”
In a memo sent to CBS employees that was widely reported in the press, acting CEO Joseph Ianniello said, among other things, that he regretted the hubbub that has resulted from the sexual misconduct allegations.
“It’s frustrating that confidential information from the ongoing investigation made its way to the public before management and the board knew about it – and importantly, before we could communicate with all of you. And while we still don’t yet know the actual results, I do understand that the investigation is nearing an end,” Ianniello noted. “We in management, as well as our board members, understand that these stories are very disconcerting. At the same time, we should all be proud that we’ve been able to maintain our focus, and continue to perform at a high level, no matter the circumstances. We will continue to communicate as information comes in. I know we are all anxious to put this chapter behind us. In the meantime, thank you for your commitment to this outstanding Company and know we’re all in this together.”
The dim view taken of abuses of power was summed up nicely by the Los Angeles Times when it opined that “The length of time over which these alleged incidents occurred is a painful reminder of how long some men have been able to engage in
such behavior, how difficult it can be for women to come forward, and how slow and painful is the process of reevaluating and revamping a culture that allowed harassers and predators to carry on.
The accusations… span some three decades, including Moonves’ years as an executive at Lorimar before he joined CBS. Some of the women say they debated whether to report their encounters back then but decided against it, fearing that they would not be believed or that their own careers would be damaged.”