A judge ordered Tavis Smiley to pay $2.6 million to PBS as a result of a breached morals clause stemming from multiple claims of sexual misconduct with subordinates.
In March, Smiley was determined by a jury to have breached his contract following a three-week trial that saw six women testify that he had propositioned them for sex and threatened consequences if they rejected him.
At the time, the jury awarded PBS $1.5 million to make up the cost of the last two seasons of Smiley’s show. However, according to Variety, the network later argued that it was entitled to more per the morals clause. The outlet reports that Judge Yvonne Williams agreed in her Aug. 5 ruling that $2.6 million will be awarded to PBS. That includes $1.9 million in liquidated damages.
The judge also awarded the network $702,898 that corporate underwriters had paid Smiley’s company for the seasons in question.
Smiley was suspended in December 2017. The network ultimately removed him after several credible allegations of misconduct came to light at the height of the #MeToo movement, which saw several powerful people in show business and politics lose their positions as accusers came forward.
Smiley first sued PBS in D.C. Superior Court, contending that racial bias contributed to his dismissal and he was wrongly terminated without proof. He acknowledged having romantic relationships with colleagues over his career, but says they were consensual. He sought $1 million. The network counter-sued, arguing in part that Smiley owed the network for shows that didn’t air.
He was on air with PBS for more than a decade, broadcast to more than 200 stations nationwide. Smiley, who is Black, was the only minority to have served as the solo host in the history of the network, according to his lawsuit.
Variety reports that one woman testified that Smiley threatened her employment when she rebuffed an advance. Another woman testified that she had a consensual relationship with Smiley. However, she claims that when she turned him down for sex, he reminded her that he was her boss, thus making her think that her job was dependent on not only her relationship with him, but also on keeping him happy.
“I felt like my job was in jeopardy and that if I didn’t do what he wanted sexually, I would lose my job,” the woman testified, according to the outlet.