CBS CEO Les Moonves stepped down on Sunday and is exiting the company without a severance package — at least for now.
In a joint release with National Amusements, which controls roughly 80 percent of the voting power in CBS, the company said that Moonves will not receive a severance package “at this time,” and that he and CBS would donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
“The donation will be made immediately, and has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the Board’s ongoing independent investigation led by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton,” CBS and National Amusements said in a statement.
“Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits); any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board evaluation,” the statement continued.
Moonves’ exit comes two months after Ronan Farrow’s bombshell report in the New Yorker, in which six women accused the longtime media mogul of sexual harassment. On Sunday, a new report from Farrow in The New Yorker outlined accusations of sexual assault and harassment from six additional women.
The former CEO’s golden parachute — before the sexual harassment accusations resulted in an investigation — was worth between $184 million and $315 million, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company did not set a timetable for the independent investigation of Moonves by two law firms, nor for the determination of whether or how that might impact the long-time executive’s compensation.
The Times Up organization last week criticized CBS when reports surfaced that Moonves was due a $100 million severance package.
“This is a precedent-setting moment for CBS — and culture at large. A man accused of rigorously reported allegations of harassment should not be rewarded with a golden parachute,” the advocacy organization said in the statement.
“Les Moonves walking away with a $100 million settlement sends a message to survivors everywhere that powerful men can act without fear of consequence,” the statement said. “We remain in solidarity with the six women who bravely shared their stories, risking their own incomes and careers, as well as the untold other women who may still be afraid to speak out.”
The statement went on to point out that $100 million “is an enormous sum of money. In fact, it’s more than the average American woman will earn over the course of 50 lifetimes. Rather than reward an alleged predator, this $100 million could fund the legal defenses of countless women and men facing workplace harassment and abuse across the country.”
Times Up renewed its call for Moonves to be dismissed without an exit package in a statement on Sunday, following the second report of sexual misconduct and accusations from six additional women. The organization also condemned the “toxic culture” at CBS.
“These allegations speak to a culture of toxic complicity at CBS, where the safety of women was continuously ignored to protect the careers of powerful men and the corporation,” the statement read. “The CBS Board of Directors has an obligation to move swiftly and decisively to create a safe work environment for all and rid the company of this toxic culture.”