Former CBS Chief Les Moonves to Fight for $120 Million Severance

Fighting back, former CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves is challenging the network, which aims to deny him a $120 million severance package in the wake of the #MeToo movement and other accusations.

Since CBS forced him out last year, accusing him of several sexual misconduct allegations and violating company policies by committing what the board called "willful and material misfeasance," Moonves has elected to contest the board's decision in arbitration proceedings, according to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

Moonves declined to comment. The only statement CBS released was, "The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings."

However, a CBS statement in a Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory filing first The Wall Street Journal first reported reads simply:

"On January 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves notified the company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter."

Reportedly, Moonves has the right to challenge the board's findings in arbitration under his separation agreement. He resigned under pressure on September 9 after two high-profile New York law firms, which CBS hired, spent four months investigating reports of his alleged sexual misconduct.

The CBS board investigation concluded that he had also breached his employment contract and intentionally failed to fully cooperate with the investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

In December, the CBS board of directors announced it decided to deprive Moonves of the severance package.

Via a spokesperson, Moonves declined to comment on the filing, wrote The Wall Street Journal.

The CBS board, replaced last year, commissioned the investigation, but still has not hired a permanent replacement for Moonves. The selection process is complicated, according to The Wall Street Journal, by the prospect of an eventual merger between CBS and sister media company Viacom.

The board fired Moonves after several women—including actresses Cybill Shepherd and Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones and producer Christine Peters—accused him of retaliation after they refused his sexual advances, as well as other sexual misconduct or attacks when they worked for him and CBS.

Shepherd, perhaps the most high-profile actress among the accusers, claimed in December that CBS quickly canceled her popular 1990s sitcom, Cybill, after she refused Moonves's sexual advances.

Moonves's downfall came in the middle of the #MeToo movement in which more women, mostly lesser-known actresses, stepped forward to describe how Moonves allegedly threatened career-ending or project-ending retaliation.

Originally, The New Yorker broke a story last August reported that Moonves allegedly forced himself on women either seeking a career or already working within the entertainment industry. Many of the allegations went back many decades.

Moonves has been married to Julie Chen of The Talk and Big Brother fame since 2004. He denied the allegations against him.