Les Moonves is reportedly fighting CBS’ decision to deny his $120 million severance package following his firing from the network amid sexual misconduct allegations. A new report by the Wall Street Journal reveals that CBS disclosed the not-so-surprising development in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week.
According to the filing, “Moonves notified the company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter,” CNN reports.
Les Moonves was forced to resign as chairman and chief executive of CBS in September after more than a dozen women came forward with sexual harassment claims against him, some of which dated back decades. The allegations against Moonves, first reported by investigative journalist Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, include forced oral sex, groping, and retaliation if his alleged victims resisted his advances.
Former Moonves deputy Joe Ianniello was named interim CEO of the network as the Moonves scandal played out in the headlines — and in December, the former CBS executive was denied a $120 million severance payment after a five-month CBS board investigation determined that he had violated company policies and breached his employment contract. Moonves was also described as “uncooperative” during the investigation.
At the time, it was announced that Les Moonves “will not receive any severance payment” from the company, indicating that they had sufficient reason to fire the once-powerful television executive for cause. Moonves’ attorney, Andrew Levander, responded by saying that the “baseless” conclusions of the board “were foreordained and are without merit.”
Now, in what is being described as an “expected” move, Les Moonves will challenge the board’s decision in arbitration in an attempt to secure the $120 million exit package from CBS, which has been in escrow since he stepped down from his post at the network in early September.
Les Moonves’ demand for an arbitration hearing has caused a frenzy on social media. Some critics noted that Moonves has nothing to lose as CBS picks up the legal tab. Comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to express outrage over Moonves’ latest legal move.
“So many women suffered because of Les Moonves [sic] predatory behavior and now he has the audacity to try and squeeze more money out of CBS. F**k him. I hope more people will join me in shunning him… he deserves to be driven out of polite society,” the comedian wrote.
Les Moonves has vehemently denied the allegations against him, and has described some of the encounters with his accusers as “consensual” relationships. The fallen CBS boss made a public statement about the allegations, and said that he regretted if he had made anyone uncomfortable,
The ousted CBS chief’s drawn-out battle with CBS comes as his wife, Julie Chen, gets ready to host the celebrity-themed season of the reality show Big Brother on CBS. In September, Chen resigned from her position at the daytime chatfest The Talk to spend more time at home with her husband and their young son, Charlie.
Chen remains a CBS employee as Les Moonves’ drama with the network continues to play out.