The Ellen DeGeneres Show has responded to staff complaints on the series about a “toxic” working environment.
Former and current employees claimed to be battling prejudice, fear, and intimidation on the show behind the scenes at BuzzFeed News, saying the “‘be kind’ bullshit” was “all for show”.
Some said they were fired to attend a family funeral services or for taking sick leave or bereavement days, while one Black woman who worked at the show said she witnessed racist remarks, acts and microaggressions.
The latter believed her colleagues distanced themselves from her when she discussed this bias, adding: “Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff.
“He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ‘I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bullshit.”
She also revealed that after asking for increment after finding another recent hire, had doubled her salary for doing the same job, she was later rebuked for objecting to the term “spirit animal,” asking for a raise and suggesting that employees receive diversity and inclusion training. Since that day she left work and never returned.
“I feel like I’m not alone in this,” she said. “We all feel this. We’ve been feeling this way, but I’ve been too afraid to say anything because everyone knows what happens when you say something as a Black person. You’re blacklisted.”
Another employee associated with the show claimed they had gone back to work after taking medical leave following a suicide attempt, although it was told that their position had been eliminated, while another said they had been fired on three occasions during a difficult year after taking time off.
The former employees have also alleged that there is a biasness and favoritism between those employees who “drink the Kool-Aid” and those who recognize a toxic environment – although some have defended the work culture, claiming it is typical of television culture.
Reacting to the claims, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner said: “Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment.”
They further added, “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.”
“For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realise, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better,” the statement concluded.