Les Moonves to challenge CBS' denial of $120M severance


Leslie Moonves, who resigned under pressure as CEO of CBS Corp., is challenging the company's decision to deprive him of US$120-million in severance pay, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Moonves is demanding binding arbitration proceedings to challenge the decision, CBS announced in a filing Thursday with the Security Exchange Commission.

CBS' board of directors last month ousted Moonves after it determined Moonves had violated company policies and deliberately tried to thwart a three-month investigation into his conduct while at the company.

His lawyer, Andrew Lavender, blasted the decision made by the CBS board of directors last month when they disclosed the determination that Moonves was sacked for violating numerous company policies including those involving sexual harassment.

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Since joining CBS in 1995, Moonves transformed the corporation into the most-watched television network in the country and one of the media industry's best-performing businesses. "Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators".

"The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit", Lavender said after the board's decision was announced on December 17.

An attorney for Moonves did not respond to a request for comment.

The terms of Moonves' lucrative employment contract with CBS spelled out that disputes would be handled privately through mediators governed by the American Arbitration Association. The $120 million owed to Moonves under his original contract has remained in escrow since he stepped down last September, The Wall Street Journal reported. CBS's board is expected to discuss the possibility of a merger at a meeting January 31 in Los Angeles.