Fired Talk Show Host Sues Broadcaster, Says Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Were Just ‘Pretext’ to End Distribution of His Show

Feb 23, 2018  •  Post A Comment

A talk show host who was taken off the air amid allegations of sexual misconduct isn’t going quietly. CNN reports that Tavis Smiley has filed a lawsuit against PBS alleging that the broadcaster used the claims against him as a pretext to end a “tense” relationship.

PBS suspended distribution of “Tavis Smiley” in December, citing “troubling allegations” against Smiley.

“Following an investigation into the accusations, PBS said Smiley had ‘multiple sexual encounters with subordinates over many years,’ and engaged in conduct that was not consistent with the organization’s standards,” CNN reports. “The complaint, filed in superior court in Washington, D.C., accuses PBS of breach of contract, saying the investigation into Smiley was ‘biased’ and carried out ‘in violation of norms and procedures for conducting workplace investigations.'”

The report quotes Smiley’s complaint saying: “PBS was prepared to make its decision to suspend distribution of the show without interviewing Mr. Smiley and providing him with an opportunity to respond to specific allegations.”

The lawsuit adds that “over the years, PBS has acted in a racially hostile manner” against Smiley, and that he has been “the only person of color to have served as the solo host of a daily national show in the history of PBS.”

PBS responded by saying the lawsuit is unfounded. CNN quotes Jennifer Rankin Byrne, vice president of corporate communications for PBS, saying in an emailed 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.”

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