Tavis Smiley to pay PBS $1.5 Mill. After Losing ‘Morals Clause’ Case

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Tavis Smiley
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PBS has prevailed on its claim that Tavis Smiley breached a morals clause. On Wednesday, a Washington, D.C., jury returned a verdict in favor of the public broadcaster and decided that the former late-night talk show host should pay $1.486 million.

In 2017, PBS suspended Smiley upon allegations of sexual misconduct. As the #MeToo movement gained steam, PBS wished to disassociate itself with a television personality accused of behaving inappropriately toward subordinates. The case then became a rare test of morals clauses. In the 100 years since Hollywood began inserting clauses into contracts that forbid talent from doing anything that would injure reputations, the subject of morals clauses has hardly ever been put to test before a jury.

At trial, PBS presented more than half a dozen women who spoke how they were pressured into relationships or had become the victim of unwanted advances. Smiley insisted the relationships were consensual, and the jury had to consider whether the morals clauses covered the conduct alleged. Adding to the complexity of the case, D.C. Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams previously ruled that Smiley’s conduct dating back years and even decades was outside the scope of the contract. Nevertheless, the judge allowed the jury to hear from the women given claims that Smiley continued to have a sexual relationship with an executive producer on his show, publicly lied about a 2007 settlement agreement with a female subordinate and appeared on Facebook and ABC’s Good Morning America to defend himself. On the witness stand, Smiley said the women’s stories were filled with “lies.”

Read more  HERE.

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