UPDATED July 27, 5:20 p.m. ET: WarnerMedia is conducting an internal investigation on The Ellen DeGeneres Show following numerous accounts of workplace problems. In a memo sent to staffers last week, it said WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm will interview current and former staffers, according to Variety.
See original story from 07/17/20 below.
Ellen DeGeneres is at the center of controversy, once again.
In a recent BuzzFeed News report, one current and 10 former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show claimed they experienced a toxic work culture that conflicted with the host's "be kind" mantra.
"That 'be kind' bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show," a former employee told the outlet. "I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show."
The sources, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, levied a wide range of allegations against their superiors. Some claimed they were terminated for taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. One Black woman alleged she endured racist comments and microagressions during her 18 months with show. She recalled a time at a work party, when one of the top writers told her, "I'm sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here." The employee also claimed a senior-level producer commented on her and another Black employees' hairstyles, allegedly stating: "Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused."
"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," she said. "He would use his Black friend as some way to say, 'I understand your struggle.' But it was all performative bullshit."
Though the report didn't include any allegations against DeGeneres, the sources insisted the host needed to take responsibility for the toxicity behind the scenes.
"If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what’s going on," another employee said. "I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, 'Things are going great, everybody’s happy,' and she just believes that, but it’s her responsibility to go beyond that."
DeGeneres has faced backlash over the years for being allegedly cold and unfriendly to employees, fans, and fellow celebrities. One ex-staffer insisted DeGeneres was not the problem, and placed the blame on other show executives.
"The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean," the source said. "They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there — ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.'"
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner released the following joint statement to BuzzFeed News, reassuring the outlet they were taking the allegations "very seriously" and "are committed to do better."
"Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment," they said. "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 realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."