"On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer," NBC News Chairman Andy Lack announced in a statement Wednesday morning, which Savannah Guthrie read on-air. "It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've have decided to terminate his employment.
"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. 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."
Lauer had been an anchor on Today since 1997 and is one of the series' best known on-air personalities. The filer and details of the complaint against Lauer have not been made public.
During Wednesday's show, which began shortly after the Today team learned of Lauer's firing, Guthrie was joined by Hoda Kotb, who was filing in for Lauer on the 7 a.m. hour. After Lack's statement was read, both anchors echoed what Gayle King said about former CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose
"This is a very tough morning for both of us. I've known Matt for 15 years as a friend and as a colleague," Kotb said. "It's hard to reconcile what we are hearing with the man who we know who walks in this building every day."
"We're processing it with all of you at home, and we promise to be transparent and be straight-forward and continue this important conversation," Guthrie added.
Lauer is the latest powerful man to be brought down by allegations of sexual misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and one of several journalists, including author and pundit Mark Halperin, New York Times political reporter Glenn Thrush and Rose.
Lauer's dismissal prompted a response from President Trump, who has a longstanding resentment against NBC News. "Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,'" Trump tweeted. "But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack's past!"
Later Wednesday morning, the attorney for the woman who made the complaint against Lauer provided a statement to the New York Times.
"My client and I met with representatives from NBC's Human Resources and Legal Departments at 6pm on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours," said Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson. "Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
"While I am encouraged by NBC's response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing."