The #MeToo movement has claimed another victim as a Washington D.C. court ruled in PBS favor, finding that former host Tavis Smiley violated the company’s moral clause when he engaged in multiple affairs with staffers.

While a D.C. Superior Court judge has yet to determine the total amount of damages, Smiley will be ordered to pay at least $1.5 million.

“We are pleased with the jury’s decision,” a PBS spokesperson said in a statement. “PBS expects our producing partners to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect. It was important for us to ensure that the courageous women who came forward were able to share their stories and that we continue to uphold the values and standards of our organization.”

The alleged misconduct—reported by six women and dating back more than a decade— included inappropriate sexual comments, touching, verbal abuse and sexual relations with not just subordinates but guests on the show as well. Many of the women also claimed that they were fearful of retaliation if they reported Smiley.

The former TV host, whose show was dropped by the network in 2017, sued PBS the following year, claiming that the company used the allegations as a pretext to end a “tense” relationship, calling their investigation “biased” and carried out “in violation of norms and procedures for conducting workplace investigations.”

Smiley also claimed in the lawsuit that PBS had acted in a racially hostile manner against him over the years. The 55-year old author/talk show host had no comment following the ruling.

Tina Tchen, the CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation, weighed in on the decision, praising the women who spoke up against Smiley.

“Because of their voices and determination, and PBS’s fight against harassment, today another jury believed the women and reinforced their right to a safe and dignified workplace in a history-making verdict. We hope that all workers will take some comfort in the message this verdict sends on the heels of the verdict in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial: we are moving ever closer toward a world in which survivors will be believed, and perpetrators can be held accountable.”

Courtesy LA Focus

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