Les Moonves to pursue arbitration for $120 million severance denied by CBS

Former CBS chief Les Moonves will be pursuing arbitration to fight CBS for the $120 million severance pay he was denied last month when he was fired by the board of directors for cause.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, CBS stated that Moonves has informed the company of his plan: “On January 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves 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.”

The investigation into Moonves — who was ousted in September, after multiple women came forward with sexual misconduct accusations — concluded Dec. 17, with the CBS board announcing at that time the former chairman and CEO “will not receive any severance payment.”

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause,” the board said in a statement, citing what they categorized as Moonves’ “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.”

Moonves stood to receive a $120 million golden parachute, pending the now-closed investigation, which is what he’s fighting for now.

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Les Moonves and Julie Chen together
NEW YORK - APRIL 11: CBS president and Viacom CEO Leslie Moonves and his wife TV personality Julie Chen arrive to the American Theater Wing Annual Dinner. This year's Spring benefit honors CBS Television and it's chairman Leslie Moonves held at Cipriani's 42nd St. April 11, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)
Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves during 2004 Vanity Fair Oscar Party - Arrivals at Mortons in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen during CBS at 75 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 7: (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves attend the New York premiere of Quentin Tarantino's 'Kill Bill Vol. 1' at the Ziegfeld Theater October 7, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Leslie Moonves;Julie Chen attends the 59th Annual Tony Awards held at Radio City Music Hall, New York BRIAN ZAK. (Photo by Brian ZAK/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen during The Museum of Television & Radio Honors Leslie Moonves and Jerry Bruckheimer - Arrivals at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves during Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios' World Premiere of 'Freedomland' at Loews Lincoln Square Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for Sony Pictures-Los Angeles)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 30: CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves (R) and TV personality Julie Chen arrive at the first annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 30, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 06: President and CEO of the CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves and his wife Julie Chen attend the grand opening of the CBS Scene Restaurant & Bar on September 6, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mary Schwalm/Getty Images)
Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen attend the '63rd Annual Tony Awards' at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)
CBS News anchor Julie Chen and husband, CBS Corporation President and CEO Leslie Moonves attend the 2011 CBS Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 16: TV personality Julie Chen and President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS CorporationLeslie Moonves arrive at The Weinstein Company And Relativity Media's 2011 Golden Globe Awards Party held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 29: Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves arrives at the 2012 TCA Summer Tour - CBS, Showtime And The CW Party at 9900 Wilshire Blvd on July 29, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: TV personality Julie Chen AND President & CEO of the CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves attend the Vanity Fair Party during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival at the State Supreme Courthouse on April 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen attend The Weinstein Company's 2013 Golden Globes After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 06: TV personality Julie Chen and CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves attend AFI's 41st Life Achievement Award Tribute to Mel Brooks at Dolby Theatre on June 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. 23647_003_SK_1164.JPG (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: President and chief executive officer of CBS Corp. Leslie Moonves and television personality Julie Chen attend the Costume Institute Gala for the 'PUNK: Chaos to Couture' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Producer Julie Chen and President and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves attend the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair Party at State Supreme Courthouse on April 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Producer Julie Chen (L) and President of CBS Leslie Moonves attend Universal Music Group's 2016 GRAMMY after party at The Theatre At The Ace Hotel on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen attend the 2015 CBS Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TV personality Julie Chen (L) and CBS' Leslie Moonves arrive at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TV personality Julie Chen (L) and CBS' Leslie Moonves arrive at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Television personality Julie Chen (L) and CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves attend the premiere of CBS's 'Star Trek: Discovery' at The Cinerama Dome on September 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
THE OSCARS(r) - The 89th Oscars(r) broadcasts live on Oscar(r) SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017, on the ABC Television Network. (Tyler Golden/ABC via Getty Images) JULIE CHEN, LESLIE MOONVES
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In a statement given by Andrew Levander, an attorney for Moonves, at the time of CBS’ ruling last month, the broadcaster’s former chief maintained his innocence. “The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit,” Levander said. “Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this ‘process,’ the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy. Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Levander did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on this story and CBS Corp declined to comment.

Beyond Moonves’ monetary fate, investigators also determined that “harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS,” but that the company’s historical policies didn’t make “preventing harassment and retaliation” a “high institutional priority.”

Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct by six women in a New Yorker article written by Ronan Farrow last July. Six more women came forward in September. Moonves resigned as CEO of CBS in September, following a two-month investigation but has denied all accusations.

Last month, CBS president and acting CEO Joseph Ianniello told employees that the investigation into the culture at CBS that was sparked by the multiple sexual misconduct accusations made against Moonves was nearing its end, noting that it was “frustrating” multiple leaks from the probe have been published in the New York Times.

In one of those stories, a report by lawyers for CBS found that the network would be justified in denying Moonves an otherwise-owed $120 million severance payout because he destroyed evidence and misled investigators looking into accusations of sexual misconduct, according to the Times, which cited a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board.

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