Tavis Smiley filed a lawsuit against PBS in superior court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 20, Us Weekly confirms. The talk show host, 53, claims the network was “biased” in its investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations made against him.
“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,” reads the complaint, which also claims the probe was carried out “in violation of norms and procedures for conducting workplace investigations.”
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that “PBS has acted in a racially hostile manner” against Smiley over the years, noting 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.”
In a statement to CNN, PBS called the complaint “meritless” and “another example of Tavis Smiley’s attempts to distract the public from his pattern of sexual misconduct in the workplace.” The network added, “The notion that PBS’ decision to suspend distribution of the program was made for any reason aside from Mr. Smiley’s own behavior is ridiculous and false.”
PBS suspended Smiley’s self-titled late-night talk show in December after receiving what it said were “multiple, credible allegations” of sexual misconduct against the host. Smiley has denied any wrongdoing, writing in a Facebook post in December, “I have never groped, coerced or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years. … If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us.”
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