A #MeToo saga that began in 2017 has finally come to a close. A judge has ordered TV host Tavis Smiley to pay $2.6 million to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for breaking his morals clause and having multiple affairs with his subordinates.
Over the course of a three-week trial, jurors heard deposition testimony from six women who accused Smiley of misconduct—bringing them some hopeful closure for these incidents.
The $2.6 million awarded to PBS includes $1.9 million in “liquidated damages.” The awarded money also includes $702,898 to reimburse corporate underwriters for the money they paid to TS Media during the two seasons. Smiley also will not be able to ask for a reduction in the jury award.
One woman testified at the trial that Smiley made quite a few sexual advances. When she rejected his advances, he stated, “I’m bored with you telling me no. I’m bored with you rejecting me,” in accordance with her testimony. “I’m going to present you what occurs to individuals after they reject me.” The woman ended up leaving her job and was paid $325,000 to resolve a sexual harassment grievance.
Another woman testified that she had a consensual relationship with Smiley. When she turned him down for intercourse, he reminded her that he was her boss.
“I felt like my job was in jeopardy and that if I didn’t do what he needed sexually, I might lose my job,” the woman testified. She was later fired, and testified she believed it was as a result of others within the workplace realizing the connection.
PBS suspended Smiley’s show in December 2017, after hiring an outside firm to look into complaints of sexual misconduct. Smiley sued the network in February 2018, and PBS countersued. The jury rejected Smiley’s claim that PBS had violated his contract by canceling his show.