CBS’ board fired Les Moonves on Monday, seemingly puncturing a hole in his $120 million golden parachute.
But a little-noticed clause in Moonves’ employment contract indicates that CBS has been picking up its former chief executive’s legal bills since he left the company in September.
That would appear to incentivize Moonves to challenge the board’s decision in a confidential arbitration proceeding — though the executive said in an interview Tuesday that he has yet to decide whether to pursue this course of action.
The New York Times first reported the details of the indemnification clause, which covers Moonves’ expenses — including attorneys fees. Details of the separation agreement were filed on Sept. 10 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and independently confirmed by a source.
Moonves’ lawyer seemed to signal that his client is spoiling for a fight, saying the long-time television executive’s name, reputation and legacy have been damaged by a series of explosive press reports, including several detailing the findings of CBS’ internal investigation.
“Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators,” said attorney Andrew Levander, who is a seasoned litigator.
The Times notes that CBS could stop paying Moonves’ legal bills, since the former executive was fired for cause. But that approach rarely prevails in court, the publication notes. He could sue to collect the fess, and the media company would end up picking up the bill for the lawsuit, too.
A CBS spokesperson declined comment and Levander did not respond to Deadline’s inquiry.