Matt Lauer was fired after alleged inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a source tells PEOPLE.
An NBC staffer filed a complaint Monday “that was serious enough that he was terminated,” the source explains. “The accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace occurring throughout 2014.”
Reps for Lauer declined to comment.
Lauer, who signed a $20 million dollar contract in 2016, was terminated from the Today show over allegations of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in a memo to staff announcing Lauer’s firing Wednesday morning, read aloud on Today by Lauer’s co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” Lack continued in the statement. “We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.”
“We just learned this moments ago, just this morning,” Guthrie said, with her voice breaking. “As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this. And I will tell you right now, we do not know more than what I just shared with you. But we will be covering this story as reporters, as journalists. I’m sure we will be learning more details in the hours and days to come, and we promise we will share that with you.”
She continued, “We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt – he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”
“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? I don’t know the answer to that,” Guthrie added. “But I do know this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected.”
Kotb joined Guthrie in Lauer’s usual seat, calling it a “tough morning.”
“It’s hard to reconcile with what we are hearing with the man who we know, who walks in this building every single day,” Kotb said. “We were both woken up with the news, kind of pre-dawn, and we’re trying to process it and trying to make sense of it – and it’ll take some time for that.”
Roker was visibly upset, saying that he was “trying to process” the news about his friend of 30 years.
Lauer got his start at NBC in 1992 when he filled in as a newsreader on Today, becoming a co-anchor of the morning show in January 1997.
A source with background knowledge tells PEOPLE that Lauer’s termination was precipitated by NBC firing Matt Zimmerman, a former talent booking executive, earlier this month.
“We have recently learned that Matt Zimmerman engaged in inappropriate conduct with more than one woman at NBCU, which violated company policy. As a result he has been dismissed,” NBC News said in a statement to Variety at the time.
After, “NBC decided that, basically, any affair is grounds for firing because it’s improper workplace conduct,” the source tells PEOPLE.