The Ellen DeGeneres Show has come under attack by several former employees who claim that the long-running daytime talk show is hiding a toxic work culture where people are mistreated and fired for taking medical leave and bereavement days.
“That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told BuzzFeed News. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
BuzzFeed News said it spoke to to one current and ten former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution.
I spoke to one current and 10 former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show about their experiences behind the scenes. https://t.co/3eNKkr0xbJ
— Krystie Lee Yandoli (@KrystieLYandoli) July 17, 2020
Some said they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. One employee claims she was fed up with comments about her race and “essentially walked off the job,” according to Buzzfeed. Others said they were told not to speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office.
While they mostly blamed senior managers and executive producers, one former employee said that the buck ultimately stops with Ellen DeGeneres. “She really needs to take more responsibility” for the workplace environment, the individual reportedly said.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, a trio of top producers said they are taking the complaints seriously. “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,” they said.
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner also said they have “strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment.”
Buzzfeed focused on former black employee who said that she experienced multiple instances of insensitive and inappropriate remarks. At a work party, she alleges one of the main show writers told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.” Other coworkers “awkwardly laughed it off” rather than speaking up, she said.
The employee said that colleagues called her “the PC police” after she objected to the term “spirit animal.”
“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 told Buzzfeed. “He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ‘I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bullshit.”
Another former employee claims to have been laid off after taking medical leave for one month to check into a mental health facility for a suicide attempt. “You’d think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives,” the person told BuzzFeed.
Yet another former employee alleges to have been fired after taking time away from thee office for three separate incidents — medical leave for three weeks following a car accident; working remotely for two days to attend a family member’s funeral; and three days off to travel for another family member’s funeral.
A third former employee claims to have been reprimanded for creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs that weren’t covered by their health plan and then sharing it on social media.
Ellen DeGeneres was already facing criticism from crew members on her talk show who said they were furious over the lack of communication and the hiring of non-union crew during the coronavirus pandemic.