Les Moonves Denied $120 Million Severance as CBS Concludes Embattled CEO Was Fired 'For Cause'

Les Moonves

CBS will not be showing Les Moonves the money. The company’s Board of Directors announced Monday that it has completed its investigation into the ousted CEO, determining “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.”

Regarding the misconduct issues plaguing CBS News and concerns about the company’s culture at large, the investigators 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.”

CBS went on to say that it has “already begun to take robust steps to improve the working environment for all employees,” including the hiring of a new Chief People Officer retaining “outside expert advisors” to “develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect and inclusion.”

UPDATE: Moonves’s attorney, Andrew Levander, released the following statement in response to CBS’ findings: “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.”

As previously reported, CBS will donate $20 million of Moonves’ now-scrapped severance to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and gender equality in the workplace.

Moonves was fired in September after numerous sexual assault allegations were leveled against him.

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