Time’s Up Calls on CBS Board to Donate Potential $120 Million Moonves Severance to Groups That Fight Sexual Harassment

“We ask that you not dishonor the bravery of those who have come forward by spending that money unwisely,” organization says in open letter to CBS board

Les Moonves
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Time’s Up is calling on the CBS board of directors to donate the $120 million it’s holding for a potential severance package for recently-resigned CEO Leslie Moonves to organizations that address sexual harassment and workplace safety.

In an open letter to the board, the advocacy organization said: “That is $120 million dollars that will either go to Mr. Moonves or back into the coffers of the company that allowed the culture created by Mr. Moonves to continue. Or that $120 million can create change by going to organizations – and there are many impactful organizations – that can help women of all kinds. The choice is yours. But the answer is obvious. We ask that you not dishonor the bravery of those who have come forward by spending that money unwisely.”

Moonves resigned late Sunday from CBS, following a second wave of sexual misconduct allegations that came out Sunday morning.

Read the full open letter here.

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.

But Moonves could still receive as much as $120 million in severance.

In its 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, CBS Corp. said it would place $120 million in a grantor trust, while an independent investigation looks into the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against the now-former CBS chief. Two law firms — Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton — were hired to investigate the accusations, as well as cultural issues at CBS News and “all levels of CBS.”

“In the event the Board determines that the Company is entitled to terminate Mr. Moonves’s employment for cause under his employment agreement and Mr. Moonves does not demand arbitration with respect to such determination, the assets of the grantor trust will be distributed to the Company and the Company will have no further obligations to Mr. Moonves,” the company said in the filing.

But if either the board, or an independent arbitrator, determines that it can’t fire Moonves “for cause,” then “the assets of the grantor trust will be distributed to Mr. Moonves.”

The Board said they will make a determination no sooner than 30 days after the investigation wraps and so later than Jan. 31, 2019.