Les Moonves is going to arbitration to fight for $120M payout from CBS

The entertainment mogul left the network last year under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.
Image: Les Moonves
Les Moonves arrives at the CBS, CW and Showtime TCA party at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.Jordan Strauss / AP file

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By Claire Atkinson

Les Moonves, the former chief executive officer at CBS, notified the company on Wednesday that he is continuing his fight for as much as $120 million in severance.

The news emerged after CBS released a corporate filing on Thursday that noted Moonves had “notified the Company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter. The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings.”

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Moonves left CBS in September after he was accused of sexual misconduct. In December, the CBS board of directors said he would not receive his severance after concluding he was let go for cause based on the findings of two separate law firms, Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton.

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation,” the board said at the time.

While the report by the two law firms was never released, The New York Times reported that a purported draft of its conclusions included suggestions that Moonves obstructed the investigation into his sexual misconduct, and that there had been a CBS staff “employee “who was ‘on call’ to perform oral sex” on Moonves.

Moonves’ lawyer Andrew J. Levander told the newspaper, “Mr. Moonves vehemently denies having any non-consensual sexual relations. He never put or kept someone on the payroll for the purpose of sex.”

NBC News reached out to Moonves’ lawyer and representative about the request for arbitration but did not immediately hear back.

Moonves was once of the most powerful men in Hollywood, and was applauded on Wall Street for his ability to pick shows and buoy investors on bright prospects for the CBS broadcast network. His personal fortune is estimated at $700 million, according to Forbes.