Ousted CBS CEO Leslie Moonves Won't Receive $120 Million Severance Payment, Says CBS
"Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company," CBS said in a statement
Leslie “Les” Moonves won’t be receiving a $120 million severance payment from CBS in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct brought against the ousted CEO.
According to a statement from the company released Monday, CBS’ board of directors announced that Moonves “will not receive any severance payment from the Company” after it concluded its investigation.
“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,” the statement begins.
“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,” it continues.
The statement reads, “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,” the statement concludes.
The decision comes weeks after The New York Times reported at the end of November that Moonves’ exit package was valued at $120 million. In the report, actress Bobbie Phillips claimed that she was forced by Moonves to perform oral sex on him during a 1995 meeting in his office. Years later, as investigations into Moonves’ alleged behavior began, the report claimed he conspired with her talent manager, Marv Dauer, to keep her quiet by offering her a guest role on one of the network’s new series.
Moonves’ offering of a role to Phillips through Dauer in an attempt to silence her allegations — something the Times reported he did not immediately disclose to CBS’ investigators — could have been a determining factor in whether CBS has cause to fire him and withhold his money.
CBS declined to comment to PEOPLE and representatives for Moonves did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment at the time, but he told the Times, “I strongly believe that the sexual encounter with Ms. Phillips more than 20 years ago was consensual.”
In September, after numerous women came forward came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct against him, it was announced that Moonves was no longer CEO of CBS, though he has continued to claim all sexual encounters between him and his alleged victims were consensual.
“For the past 24 years, it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS’s renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed,” Moonves said in a statement to Variety in September.
“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS,” he continued. “I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”