Tavis Smiley Suing PBS After Being Fired Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Tavis Smiley is suing PBS, according to reports. The 53-year-old talk show host is taking legal action against the network for firing him last December following an investigation into allegations into sexual misconduct. PBS responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:
Today’s meritless lawsuit is yet another example of Tavis Smiley’s attempts to distract the public from his pattern of sexual misconduct in the workplace. As PBS has consistently stated, following receipt of a complaint alleging inappropriate conduct by Mr. Smiley, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation. The ongoing investigation, which included a lengthy interview with Mr. Smiley, revealed that he had multiple sexual encounters with subordinates over many years and yielded credible allegations of additional misconduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS. That is what led PBS to the decision to indefinitely suspend distribution of Mr. Smiley’s program. The notion that PBS’ decision to suspend distribution of the program was made for any reason aside from Mr. Smiley’s own behavior is ridiculous and false.
As previously reported, last December the network “indefinitely suspended” Smiley amidst an investigation by PBS from an outside law firm which concluded there were “credible allegations” regarding sexual misconduct. At the time, PBS said,
This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.
Meanwhile, Smiley admitted to having consensual sexual relationships with women on his staff. However he did maintain his innocence, clarifying:
I’ve never groped, I’ve never coerced women on his staff into sexual relations “in 30 years over 6 networks.
In a separate interview, he added,
I celebrate and applaud these women who had the courage to come out.” but stated that he’s concerned that because of the recent climate, “people end up being guilty simply by accusations.
No additional details about the lawsuit have been released.