It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified. On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act. And he loved to play a crass game with men and women in the office: Variety has talked to three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, and their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time.
They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions. The cause of his dismissal, according to sources, was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in and continued for several months.
The employee met with human resources at NBC on Monday night. But behind the scenes, Lauer was a different person. Despite being married, Lauer was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks, according to more than 10 accounts from current and former employees. He was known for making lewd comments verbally or over text messages. For Lauer, work and sex were intertwined. His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up.
This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.
According to sources, the sexual harassment extended to when Lauer traveled on assignment for NBC. Several employees recall how he paid intense attention to a young woman on his staff that he found attractive, focusing intently on her career ambitions. And he asked the same producer to his hotel room to deliver him a pillow, according to sources with knowledge of the interaction.
This was part of a pattern. According to multiple accounts, independently corroborated by Variety, Lauer would invite women employed by NBC late at night to his hotel room while covering the Olympics in various cities over the years. The spotlight on Lauer intensified earlier this month, when his longtime booker Matt Zimmerman was fired over sexual harassment complaints. The two were very close, and Lauer had promoted Zimmerman to a high executive position and offered him a powerful perch.
At least one of the anchors would gossip about stories she had heard, spreading them among the staff. He was just really cruel. However, in the wake of Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein, Lauer had to keep up with a conversation about sexual harassment.
Think of how intimidating that must have been.