Ari Wilkenfeld, the civil rights lawyer who is the victim of sexual misconduct, has dismissed Matt Lauer's lawsuit, and calls on NBC News to hire an outside firm to investigate a growing number of allegations of sexual harassment by current and former employees ,
In the days after Lauer was dismissed last November for inappropriate behavior, NBC News chairman Andy Lack said the NBCUniversal legal department would conduct an investigation. He also promised sexual harassment for employees and "cultural ratings" in his organization.
"The problem is not just the superstar molesters, it's the top management," Wilkenfeld said in a statement to Variety . "The man in charge of NBC News today oversees a newsroom that has witnessed widespread harassment of women, blaming himself for investigating and solving the problem, which is one important reason why companies are hiring external investigators a strong signal to their own employees that the company wants to get to the root of the action and is willing to take responsibility, but unfortunately it seems that NBC has decided to go in a completely different direction. "
A spokesman for NBC News declined to comment.
Wilkenfeld's last client is Linda Vester, a former NBC News presenter who said in interviews with Variety and The Washington Post last week that Tom Brokaw attempted to kiss her in the 1990s. Brokaw dismissed these allegations and stated that his meetings with Vester were "short, cordial and appropriate".
On Friday, Lack issued a memo to his co-workers with an update on NBCUniversals Review by Lauer, revealing the investigation "is nearing its conclusion, and we'll find next steps next week that we can share with you." Lack noted The investigation was conducted by Kim Harris, General Counsel at NBCUniversal.
Several employees interviewed by Variety who had asked to speak on condition of anonymity have expressed skepticism about the merits of an investigation that NBC has conducted on who knew what and when. "How should you examine yourself?" Asked an employee.
"I find it ironic and rather sad that the victims of NBC News are evidently even more intimidated when they reveal misconduct than they were when Linda was molested," said Wilkenfeld, about morale, where some employees say that they distrust management. "I understand that the culture of fear is obviously worse than before Laurer's termination."
Last week, The Washington Post revealed 12 women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment while working on NBC News Lauer. Many of these accounts were anonymous. Vester's story about Brokaw was recorded.
Brokaw wrote an e-mail defending himself from his NBC colleagues, later published in press reports. Since then, more than 100 women from the news department, including Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, have signed a letter to defend Brokaw.
Wilkenfeld has criticized NBC News before. In December, during an interview with "Today," he said that the company had disappointed its client, an anonymous employee who raised serious complaints about Lauer, by losing information about his identity both internally and to the media. Lauer, who had denied any wrongdoing, was quickly fired by NBC.
In his last memo, Lack said, "We take such allegations very seriously and act swiftly and resolutely when the facts require it." when NBC contacted Vester to investigate the charges against Brokaw, Wilkenfeld replied, "No."