NBC Will Release Some Alleged Sexual Harassment Victims From Non-Disclosure Agreements

October 26, 2019 Updated: October 26, 2019

NBCUniversal said any ex-employee who was allegedly sexually harassed while working at NBC News will be released from their non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs.

Current employees aren’t covered. Neither are employees outside NBC News.

“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in ther separation agreement should contact NBC Universal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said in a statement.

The statement was sent to Rachel Maddow, an MSNBC host who broadcast it on her show late Oct. 25.

Matt Lauer, a longtime “Today” show anchor, was accused of sexual harassment and fired as a result in late 2017. One of the alleged victims said recently that she was raped.

The allegations were reported in detail in Ronan Farrow’s recently released book, “Catch to Kill,” along with other accusations involving NBC executives, including NBC News President Noah Oppenheim.

NBC’s “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer models the official Opening Ceremony outfit that Team USA members will wear by Polo Ralph Lauren in New York City on July 29, 2016. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid Picture Supplied by Action Images)

Farrow said in the book that he attempted to report on sexual assault allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein but was blocked by executives by NBC. Farrow later went to the New Yorker, which published a lengthy story on the allegations. Farrow’s account was backed up by a producer who resigned because NBC killed the Weinstein story, he wrote in Vanity Fair.

Farrow also alleged that executives knew about Lauer’s sexual misconduct before he was fired shortly after it was ostensibly learned of.

Oppenheim is among those who have hit back at Farrow, writing in a memo to staff: “Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior to November of 2017 and were paid settlements to silence them. Not only is this false, the so-called evidence Farrow uses in his book to support the charge collapses under the slightest scrutiny.”

Farrow’s reporting spurred called for a fresh probe into whether the network was aware of the allegations against Lauer—this one conducted by a third party—but NBC has refused to do so as of yet.

The release from the NDAs came after a group of high-profile women sent a letter to Comcast, NBC’s parent company to “override NBC’s decision and launch a full investigation of sexual misconduct within the news division and release current and former employees from their non-disclosure agreements.

noah oppenheim
President of NBC News Noah Oppenheim speaks at an event in a file photograph in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Oct. 10, 2018. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Megyn Kelly, Addie Zinone, Linda Vester, Greta Van Susteren, Eleanor McManus, and Gretchen Carlson signed the letter, reported Fox News.

“These were not isolated incidents. His years of predatory behavior toward female colleagues was tolerated by executives with the same attitudes toward women—some were even predators themselves,” the letter stated.

“Certain network executives have enabled a corporate culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse, and are still trying to cover it up today. Comcast must prove to its shareholders that it will pursue the truth on behalf of NBC staffers. If necessary, it should remove executives who have abused or silenced women.”

Kelly appeared on television for her first post-NBC interview last week, saying: “As I’ve watched the Ronan story unfold … the number one thing I’ve wanted to know is, what they know and when did they know it.”

“They haven’t gotten specific about what moneys were paid out to whom. Show us the money! The number one thing that has to happen now is they need to release any and all Matt Lauer accusers from their confidentiality agreements. NBC says it has nothing to hide, great, let’s not hide anything. Show us all of the agreements,” she added.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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