If CBS CEO Les Moonves, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment allegations, decides that the company has given him “good cause” to leave, his extremely generous employment contract would leave him with about $174 million for his troubles, according to a Monday CBS report.
That loophole may be the reason CBS declined to suspend Moonves while external law firms began an investigation of his behavior.
The $174 million for voluntary departure isn’t even the best-case scenario for Moonves. Should CBS fire him without “cause,” Moonves cleans up with a $176 million package comprised of cash, company stock, health and life insurance and a pension. In addition, CBS reports that Moonves would get to stay on in an advisory role, and that he could pocket another $25 million if he opts out. He would also get a personal assistant and office space until the end of his previously agreed upon tenure in June 2021.
Even the worst possible option for Moonves is relatively cushy. If CBS fires him with cause, he does lose his severance, but would retain bonuses and stocks.
Mary-Hunter McDonnell, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business, told CBS that Moonves would likely contest his firing in that case, meaning that the company could be responsible for his legal fees, as well as the public embarrassment of the negative internal information that would be aired during the proceedings. She said that many times in these instances, the company will swallow the cost of giving the CEO a cushy escape route to avoid the headache of a drawn-out, well-publicized legal battle.