exits

Les Moonves Won’t Get $120 Million Severance From CBS

Les Moonves. Photo: Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

CBS has completed its investigation into former CEO Les Moonves, and has found that he will be fired with cause, and won’t receive a $120 million payout. In a statement released Monday evening, the company announced the details of the inquiry and Moonves’s exit: “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 Company’s investigation,” it read. “Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company.”

Moonves stepped down in September, following reporting in The New Yorker and the New York Times that outlined multiple sexual-harassment and assault allegations against Moonves, and an extended secret campaign to silence his accusers. As Moonves’s conduct has been reported, other high-profile men at CBS have been accused of harassment, including former CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose. In CBS’s statement about Moonves, the company said investigators found that harassment and retaliation were not the norm at the company. “However,” the statement read, “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.” Read the full statement below:

The Board of Directors of CBS has completed its investigation of former Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, CBS News, and cultural issues at CBS. 

 

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 Company’s investigation. Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company.

 

As a result of their work, the investigators also concluded that harassment and retaliation are not 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. 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.

 

The Board, which includes six new members, and the Company’s 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 advisors to develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect and inclusion. These efforts will continue to be a high priority for the Board and the Company’s management, and we will continue to work together to communicate with our workforce in that regard.

 

We would like to thank everyone who cooperated with the investigation and applaud CBS’ employees for remaining focused on their jobs during this very difficult time. We look forward to the people of CBS returning their full attention to the outstanding work that they do every single day.

Moonves has denied the most serious allegations against him, and has said that he is “retired.”

Update: In a statement made Monday evening, Moonves’ lawyer Andrew Levander claimed “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,” he continued. “Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”