But what exactly are his options at this point?
“I would bet dollars to doughnuts that [Gibson’s Criminal Minds] contract provides that it is okay to get rid of him if he doesn’t conduct himself with a certain level of conduct,” Jeffrey S. Kravitz of Fox Rothschild LLP tells PEOPLE. “But if he’s somehow able to prove he was not at fault, then you’re looking at potential breech of contract, at potential wrongful termination.”
Kravitz has no inside knowledge of Gibson’s situation and is not representing any of the parties involved in the incident, but he says that the actor may have grounds for a lawsuit if he is able to prove that the writer-producer, Virgil Williams, in any way provoked him or had intentions of causing him distress or harm.
“For a battery charge, there would have to have been physical harm. But for assault, simply being put in rational fear of imminent bodily harm is enough,” says Kravitz. “He would have to prove the writer was advancing on him aggressively or somehow made him fear for his safety.”
That case is now harder for Gibson to make since ABC Studios (which produces the CBS procedural) commissioned an independent investigation that resulted in Gibson being found at fault.
If Gibson did choose to file charges against Williams, Williams “can say that there was an objective fact finder and they ruled against [Gibson] and that should be considered precedent,” says Kravitz.
Los Angeles-based employment and labor law attorney and mediator Angela Reddock-Wright says it is unlikely Gibson will get the findings of the internal investigation reversed and would guess that the actor will instead focus on getting ABC Studios to release a statement that will at least place the blame on both parties involved.
“He’s likely seeking a monetary settlement for damages since the publicity surrounding his termination could make it harder for him to seek future employment,” says Reddock-Wright, who also is not affiliated with any parties involved. “If they say that he was not solely to blame, that could make things easier for him.”
Both Kravitz and Reddock-Wright say it is not out of the realm of possibility that Gibson could fight to be brought back on the show he’s called home for more than 11 seasons, but Kravitz believes he will “not likely” be able to return.
“It’s possible, but it’s more likely that he could get some financial accommodation,” says Kravitz. “Then again, there’s a famous saying in Hollywood: ‘I’ll never talk to you again, unless I need something from you.’ So it’s not out of the question.”
Criminal Minds is slated to return for season 12 on Sept. 28 on CBS.