Ellen DeGeneres says sorry: From allegations of racism to a toxic workplace, the talk show host has issues
Ellen DeGeneres, host of her popular eponymous talk show, issued an apology on July 30 after recent complaints by employees and former workers against the workplace environment regarding "racism, fear and intimidation", as reported in Variety and Buzzfeed.
In her note as mentioned in Hollywood Reporter, Ellen said she takes responsibility for all the issues and is determined to "correct" them. She said, "As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."
After her note, sources told Hollywood Reporter that the show's top producer Ed Galvin is going to be fired by Warner Bros amid allegations of 'bullying'. It's not just the allegations by former staff, but even the executive producer of Australia's 'Today' show, Neil Breen, opened up about the 'bizarre' interview he had with Ellen back in 2013 when he was told not to talk to her, approach her or look at her.
Since April, Ellen’s talk show has making headlines with back to back negative feedback from its former bodyguard, employees and former workers. Also, a Buzzfeed report dated July 16 talks about how the former employees in her leading daytime show alleged that they faced "racism, fear and intimidation". Buzzfeed News report mentions that the portal talked to one current and 10 former employees on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' who were ready to talk on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from the award-winning NBC daytime talk show and others in the industry. The report mentions bytes of employees who have worked on Ellen’s show where they allege, "That 'be kind' bulls**t only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show."
Since the allegations surfaced a series of developments have taken place – a note from Ellen addressing these concerns, reported firing of one producer and an inquiry into the matter. Here's a look at all the allegations that put Ellen in the eye of a storm.
Allegations regarding racism
Many employees said they faced racism at the workplace. A colored employee told Buzzfeed about how a writer of the show said, "I’m sorry, I only know the names of the White people who work here." The employee told Buzzfeed that when she started to speak up against discrimination, all of her colleagues distanced themselves from her. She also told Buzzfeed that she was reprimanded for her objections to the term "spirit animal", asking for a raise and suggesting that her peers on the show receive training in diversity and inclusion.
Ex-bodyguard says 'she's cold'
A former bodyguard of Ellen also opened up about his experience working with the talk show host. He said that at the 2014 Oscars, Ellen's treatment of others was "demeaning" and "very cold", as reported by Fox News in a May 1 report. He said, "It was very cold and it was very sly and it was actually kind of demeaning in the way that she treats people other than those who are in her circle."
Employee pushed to suicide attempt?
In an April 16 report, entertainment website Variety reported that the employees were "distressed and outraged" with top-level producers amid the pandemic. The report mentions how the 30 people crew of Ellen’s show received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay or inquiries pertaining to their mental and physical health from producers, for over a month. This was told to Variety by two sources on the condition of anonymity.
In a shocking incident, an employee told BuzzFeed that after working for Ellen's show for a year, they took medical leave for a month to check into a mental health facility for attempting suicide. However, the week they returned to work, they were told that their position was being eliminated, as reported by the article. "You'd think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives," the employee, whose story was corroborated by four other employees and medical records, told BuzzFeed News.
Mental health issues and workplace toxicity
A former employee told Buzzfeed that the producers are responsible for attaching stigma to mental health issues at the workplace. "Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma," they said. "They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra. That’s the definition of a toxic work environment, where they make you feel like you’re going insane and then you’re like, no, everything I was feeling was right. It was all leading up to this," told a former staffer, whose story was corroborated by five former employees and medical records as reported by Buzzfeed.
Protecting Ellen's image
Employees complained that they were warned when they started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs as it wasn't covered by the company's health insurance. They were asked to keep the campaign off social media within 24 hours of posting about it as it could harm Ellen’s image, reports Buzzfeed. "They discovered my fundraiser, then got mad at me… They were more concerned about Ellen’s brand instead of helping me out," the former employee, whose story was corroborated by four other employees, told BuzzFeed News.
As per the report most of the employees have blamed executive producers and other senior managers for "day-to-day toxicity". "Everyone was unhappy unless you were one of those people being favored," a source told BuzzFeed, mentioning the favoritism opted by producers at the workplace that added to the employees' distress.
Resentment towards managers and producers
Talking about the fearful atmosphere the employees were made to work in, one employee told Buzzfeed, "I never felt like it was safe to go to my manager when I had issues because this was the same person who would wait for me to go to the bathroom and then message me, asking me where I was and why I wasn’t at my desk."
In the report, an employee also talked about the problematic way in which the three producers of the show handled such concerns. "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." It is in the light of such allegations that executive producer Ed Galvin has been fired, as reported by Hollywood Reporter.