The decision comes on the heels of a news report in which current and former employees claimed that they faced racism, fear, and intimidation behind the scenes of the long-running daytime talk show.
Ellen DeGeneres' acclaimed talk show has reportedly become the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia following multiple allegations from former staffers about a toxic workplace environment. The move comes on the heels of a BuzzFeed News report in which current and former employees claimed that they faced racism, fear, and intimidation behind the scenes of the long-running daytime talk show. While DeGeneres built her brand upon the motto "be kind," the host's kind and charming public persona began to chip away earlier this year after a Twitter thread accusing her of being "one of the meanest people alive" went viral.
‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ Workplace Under Investigation by WarnerMedia (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/knklNFjFgk— Variety (@Variety) July 27, 2020
According to Variety, sources claim executives from show producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. Television sent a memo to staffers last week informing them that they have engaged WBTV-owner WarnerMedia's employee relations group and a third party firm. Two people with knowledge of the letter outlining the company's investigation revealed that current and former staff members will be interviewed about their experiences on set. While it is known that the memo came from the desks of Telepictures executive vice president Donna Redier Linsk and WBTV vice president of human resources, Donna Hancock Husband, the name of the third-party consultant wasn't immediately clear.
WarnerMedia has initiated an investigation into alleged workplace misconduct on the set of 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' https://t.co/s0p2apqd8X— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) July 28, 2020
One of the individuals familiar with the document said that both companies underscored their commitment to providing a healthy work environment where employees can flourish. While this is the latest in the talk show's fall from grace this year, DeGeneres is yet to comment on the events. In April, Variety released an exclusive report detailing complaints regarding the treatment of legacy crew members during the Coronavirus lockdown. Not long after, one current and 10 former staffers spoke anonymously to BuzzFeed about their experiences on set with one former employee saying: "That 'be kind' bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It's all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it's for show."
WarnerMedia has hired a third party firm to investigate allegations of a toxic workplace environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show https://t.co/TrdZ5wUJSY— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 27, 2020
It also contained a spectrum of accused racist behavior, from microaggressions to jokes about mistaking two Black female employees with the same hairstyle, being penalized for taking medical leave, and criticism of statements allegedly made to another staffer by executive producer Ed Glavin. While most of the former employees blamed executive producers and other senior managers for the day-to-day toxicity, one pointed out that ultimately it's Ellen's name on the show and "she really needs to take more responsibility" for the workplace environment. "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," they said.
Seriously, Ellen?— Jacqueline Keeler (@jfkeeler) July 21, 2020
“When the former employee brought up issues of race and representation on the show and asked producers not to use offensive terms like ‘spirit animal’ in segments, her colleagues called her ‘the PC police.’” https://t.co/fJTfVTSPFH
"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," the individual added. Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner said in a statement at the time that they take full responsibility for daily operations on the show and that they take the stories of the employees "very seriously."
Feels like this has been an open secret for years. I've def been hearing about this on podcasts etc for a long time now https://t.co/94aogGLILT— Nicole Lee (@nicole) July 21, 2020
"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."