Earlier this week, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was ousted for what was described as “inappropriate conduct,” which led to a sexual harassment complaint from CNBC anchor Hadley Gamble. According to a recent SEC filing from parent company Comcast, Shell forfeited vested and unvested stock options worth over $43 million.
This past week was filled with shakeups in the media industry, where this story was among many high-profile firings and exits from various companies. Perhaps the biggest story was when Fox News parted ways with Tucker Carlson on Monday morning. Later that day, Don Lemon was fired, and some speculate CNN saw an opportunity to let him go while the spotlight was on Tucker Carlson. On top of all this was the scandal with Jeff Shell that happened within the same relative time frame.
Comcast released this statement about Jeff Shell’s exit from the company:
“Comcast today announced that the Company and Jeff Shell, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal, have mutually agreed that Mr. Shell will depart effective immediately following the Company’s investigation led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct.”
According to the SEC filing, Shell forfeited his vested and unvested stock options with an “estimated fair value of $43.3 million as of the termination date.” It also said Shell “did not receive any supplemental payments or benefits in connection with his termination.” The filing continued, “He will receive only his accrued but unpaid base salary and vacation time, vested employee benefits and reimbursement for any unreimbursed business expenses in accordance with his employment agreement.”
It was reported in the filing that Shell’s compensation in 2022 included a base salary of $2.5 million and $7.5 million from a non-equity executive compensation plan based on company performance. He also received roughly $215,000 in other forms of compensation, such as personal use of company-owned private jets. After the firing, Comcast revoked stock awards totaling $6.6 million and options of $4.2 million.
Shell released a personal statement discussing his exit:
“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret. I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”
Comcast president Mike Cavanagh released a joint statement with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts:
“We are disappointed to share this news with you. We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace. When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here,”
“The investigation into Mr. Shell arose from a complaint by my client of sexual harassment and sex discrimination,” said Suzanne McKie, Gamble’s attorney. “Given these circumstances it is very disappointing that my client’s name has been released and her privacy violated,” McKie continued. The United Kingdom-based firm Farore Law is representing Gamble.
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