Former CEO Les Moonves will not get any part of his $120 million in severance pay. The reason? The CBS board, relying on an investigative report by an external law firm, concluded that there were multiple grounds to fire Mr. Moonves for cause. If there is cause for termination, under the severance pay clause in the Moonves contract, no severance. Citing allegations of improper sexual relations with employees and the failure to cooperate in the internal investigation, the Board is refusing to pay anything.
Through his lawyer, Mr. Moonves denied any nonconsensual sexual relations and cited full cooperation in the internal investigation. Board members halted their support of Mr. Moonves when they said they learned of his attempts to find a job for one of the women who had accused him of sexual misconduct. Mr. Moonves did not disclose that information to the Board.
How rare it is for a board to stand firm when terminating executives. The fear of litigation finds them paying out large sums despite the appearance of a termination for misconduct even as a bonus is paid.
CBS will be sued over this one — folks in the Moonves power and wealth ranks do not go silently and leave $120 mil on the table. However, it is worth the resources and fight to face the litigation and stand firm.