Disgraced former CBS head Les Moonves plans to fight the company’s decision to withhold a $120 million severance package following his forced resignation last year over several sexual misconduct allegations.
CBS Corp. announced in December that its longtime CEO would not receive the hefty exit package after an internal investigation uncovered grounds to terminate him for cause, meaning he would not be entitled the payout. According to the company, Moonves intentionally misled investigators and destroyed evidence in an effort to protect his golden parachute.
But on Wednesday, Moonves notified his former employer that he will push the matter into arbitration, according to a Thursday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. CBS said in the filing it would not comment further, citing the pending legal proceedings.
The next step for both sides is to agree on an arbitrator, The Wall Street Journal reported, noting that a panel of three people is typically chosen for complex cases such as this.
Before the Me Too movement inspired women to share their experiences with sexual abuse, Moonves was one of the most powerful men in media, leading CBS for 15 years.
In early August, a New Yorker report detailed allegations against the executive from several women who described forcible kissing and touching by Moonves and said he contributed to a toxic boys-club workplace culture. Moonves reportedly began discussing his exit with CBS board members afterward, but he stayed on until a second report came out.
On Sept. 9, The New Yorker published accusations from six additional women, including claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex, that he exposed his penis to them and that he threatened them, all over a span of decades. He announced his resignation the same day.
Since then, a New York Times investigation revealed that Moonves had attempted to cover up another accusation. Former actress Bobbie Phillips maintains that Moonves “grabbed her by the neck, pushed her to her knees and forced his penis into her mouth” during a 1995 business meeting, when he was the president of Warner Bros. Television. Phillips said Moonves had promised to put her “in any show.”
The newspaper reported that Moonves had pressured talent manager Marv Dauer, who represents Phillips, into keeping her quiet for the sake of his career.