PBS has filed a countersuit against former talk-show host Tavis Smiley, who sued the network last month for breach of contract.
The legal wrangling stems from PBS’ investigation late last year of complaints of sexual harassment of employees who worked for Smiley’s production company. PBS and PRI, which distributed Smiley’s radio show, both cut ties with the longtime host in December.
Smiley claimed in his complaint that the loss of his PBS contract led to layoffs of 20 of his employees and caused “multiple millions of dollars in damages” to his production company.
In its countersuit filed Tuesday, first reported by Hollywood Reporter, PBS said that Smiley violated the morals clause of his contract.
In the complaint, the network said that “over a dozen individuals” reported “inappropriate sexual comments or conduct” in its investigation of the allegations against Smiley. Several said Smiley had “multiple, potentially concurrent, sexual relationships with subordinates.” Others said Smiley sent pornographic images to subordinates; “Mr. Smiley confirmed that he may have done so” in an interview with a PBS investigator, according to the lawsuit.
PBS wants Smiley to return $1.9 million in salary expenses and pay unspecified damages.
Read the PBS complaint.