A Business Case for Sexual Harassment Training in the #MeToo Era

Sexual Harassment in the Entertainment Biz

The #MeToo movement has cost a number of entertainment industry figures their jobs (and arguably in the case of Bill Cosby, his liberty). The industry appears to have had a toxic culture when it comes to treatment of employees by powerful men.

CBS’ former CEO Les Moonves recently joined the ranks of the unemployed. He resigned from CBS in September and entered into a widely-criticized $120,000,000.00 severance agreement.

The severance agreement apparently had a provision allowing CBS to withhold the money in the event an internal investigation showed his wrong-doing. As noted by my pal Eric B. Meyer in his Employer Handbook post of 12/18/18:

“Wait a minute! How can CBS renege on a severance that it promised to pay Mr. Moonves? So glad you asked.

Here is a copy of the … severance agreement. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the relevant provisions for you. In a nutshell, CBA created a $120M fund from which it would either: (a) pay Mr. Moonves; or (b) not pay Mr. Moonves a single penny if CBA determined that Mr. Moonves violated his employment agreement.
Here is a copy of the … employment agreement. Once again, I’ve gone ahead and highlighted the good stuff. The good stuff is the “termination for cause” language which, among other things, permits CBS to fire Mr. Moonves for violating its sexual harassment policy or impeding an investigation.”

Counting the Costs

This should give strong incentive for Management and Boards of Directors in every industry to ensure they have the right “Tone at the Top” of the organization and effective harassment training in place. Again, from Eric:

“Either way, in case you were wondering about how to broach the subject of paying for training and other ways to make your workplace more respectful in the #MeToo era, how about selling it to the C-Suite as a value proposition?

Consider this. Regardless of whether CBS ends up paying Mr. Moonves $120M, between the bad press, the legal fees, and the goodwill hit, CBS is hemorrhaging value.
Yesterday, CBS stock closed at a 52-week low.”

Please read his whole post, here:  CBS just denied Les Moonves’ $120M severance. Can it do that?


Michael Oswald

Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.
© 2018 Michael S. Oswald

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