Will Matt Lauer Still Get Paid Millions After Being Fired from the Today Show?
Matt Lauer reportedly signed a two-year, $20 million contract in 2016
Page Six reports that Lauer is seeking $30 million — the remainder of that deal — from NBC. The network had no comment, though a source tells PEOPLE Lauer has not asked to be paid out the remainder of his contract, which could indeed have been up to $30 million.
Lauer was photographed meeting with attorney Eddie Burke Jr., who did not return PEOPLE’s calls, in the Hamptons on Thursday.
If Lauer, 59, does end up making a case for compensation, “the issue becomes, can they fire him for cause?” a source with knowledge of the situation tells PEOPLE.
“‘Is it clear cut? It might make sense to fire him for cause rather than to eat the whole contract. They can make the argument that it’s for cause, but his lawyers won’t see it that way,” the source explains. “So then they will try to negotiate a middle ground. But if any of the women take action against NBC, then that’s a factor. Insurance comes in to play, and then it becomes much more complicated.”
NBC announced early Wednesday that Lauer had been fired after the network received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior” on Monday, with reason to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident.”
A source told PEOPLE that Lauer was let go due to sexual misconduct throughout 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Multiple sources also said he repeatedly cheated on his wife of 19 years, Annette Roque.
In a report by Variety, three anonymous women accused the former newsman of sexual harassment, claiming the father of three had once brought a female employee into this office “and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis.” Lauer then allegedly “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.”
On Wednesday, a former NBC employee – who spoke to the The New York Times on condition of anonymity – said that Lauer sexually assaulted her in 2001. According to the publication, Lauer had been making “inappropriate comments” to her after she started working at the media company in the late 1990s.
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The woman told the Times that Lauer asked her into his office in 2001, and that he locked the doors by pressing a button from his desk.
Lauer, who joined the network in 1992 as a newsreader on Today, had been co-anchor of the morning show since January 1997. On Thursday, he released a statement speaking out about his termination from NBC for the first time.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” Lauer said. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.”
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly,” he added. “Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”