Former CBS chairman/CEO Leslie Moonves and CBS corporate filed legal briefs Friday in connection with a shareholder lawsuit that accuses CBS, its board and Moonves of failing to disclose information that would affect business operations and stock prices.
The Moonves comments are believed to be his first public statements since being ousted from his job last September in connection with allegations of sexual harassment.
The lawsuit by the Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California claimed there were misleading statements made by the parties. The fund is also claiming that insider stock sales are evidence of fraud.
Moonves argued in response that previous innocuous comments on the #MeToo movement in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal shouldn’t be taken as CBS policy statements. His brief (read here) argued that the introduction of a code of conduct for CBS was merely an “aspirational” letter and included a “commitment to providing equal employment opportunities and a bias-free and harassment- free workplace environment.”
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“Not only is it implausible that Moonves could have foreseen his departure from CBS at the time of the alleged statements, but this argument relies on Moonves’s supposed knowledge of mere allegations of past wrongdoing, largely unconnected to CBS,” the brief states. “As the Amended Complaint establishes, Moonves maintains that the allegations against him of misconduct more than a decade ago are not true and that he did not act improperly. Thus, at the time of Moonves’s statements, he had no reason to believe his departure was imminent and, in fact, he believed the truth of his statements.”
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