CBS Corp.'s board said Dec. 17 that it completed its investigation of former company Chairman and CEO Les Moonves and has determined there were grounds for Moonves' termination. As a result, Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the company.
Previously, the media company had set aside $120 million in possible severance compensation for Moonves, contingent upon the results of the investigation into alleged sexual misconduct. The CBS board said it found evidence of "willful and material misfeasance" on the part of Moonves, as well as violations of company policies.
"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 board said in a statement, adding however that the investigators ultimately concluded that harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS.
The board, which includes six new members, and CBS management have appointed a new Chief People Officer and have retained outside expert advisers to develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect and inclusion.
Moonves resigned in September following a July 27 article in The New Yorker that detailed allegations that he sexually assaulted and threatened six women. The piece — written by Ronan Farrow, who was among the journalists who won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on sexually predatory behavior by powerful men, including disgraced former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein — also described a culture at CBS News that tolerated abusive behavior toward women.
Moonves has denied the allegations, saying he "may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," but never used his position to harm anyone's career.