Tavis Smiley has been ordered to pay PBS $1.5 million for violating the network’s morals clause. The former talk show host was fired in 2017 following multiple allegations of misconduct.
Smiley sued his former employer in D.C. Superior Court, alleging he was wrongly terminated and claimed racial bias was a factor. PBS counter-sued and said Smiley owed them for the season of his show that never aired due to his dismissal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, jurors in the Washington D.C. case heard from six female employees who alleged misconduct including claims that Smiley had a sexual relationship with an executive producer on his talk show and publicly lied about a 2007 settlement agreement with a female subordinate. On the witness stand, Smiley said the women’s stories were filled with “lies.”
In January, Smiley posted to Facebook that “A weak case you play in the press, a strong case you play out in a court of law. I look forward to my day in court February 10, which I have finally seen granted, after [two] years of fighting.”
The jury handed down the verdict on Wednesday in favor of PBS, ordering him to pay the hefty sum.
“PBS expects our producing partners to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect,” the network said in a statement. “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.”