*Sh*t just went from bad to worse for Tavis Smiley. That’s because a jury in Washington DC just decided that he must pay $1.5 million to his former employer, PBS for workplace sexual misconduct.
Smiley, who hosted a talk show on the network was dismissed back in 2017 following “troubled, but credible allegations” PBS said it had received against Smiley
It seems the big problem is the PBS’ “morals” clause. It bars romantic relationships in the office and also disallows employees from acting in a way that would impact the employee or network in a negative way.
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Here’s more via USA Today:
Jurors heard testimony from six female employees who described misconduct claims. Smiley denied the allegations. The jury deliberated for about a day before reaching a verdict in the civil case.
PBS said in a statement to The Associated Press that the network was pleased with the jury’s decision.
“PBS expects our producing partners to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect,” the network said. “It was important for us to ensure that the courageous women who came forward were able to share their stories and that we continue to uphold the values and standards of our organization.”
Smiley first sued PBS in D.C. Superior Court, contending that racial bias contributed to his dismissal and he was wrongly terminated without proof. The network counter-sued, arguing in part that Smiley owed the network for a season that didn’t air.
In a Facebook post at the time of his dismissal from the network, Smiley said he was “as shocked as anyone else by PBS’ announcement.”
“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth,” he said. “To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years. Never. Ever. Never.”
Not that it matters at this point, as far as the jury’s decision is concerned, but Smiley added that PBS “overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment… trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish. This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back.”
You can read/learn MORE about this story at USA Today.