Ellen show ex-staff say they faced racism, got fired for attending funerals: 'Be kind bulls**t is all for show'
'I know they give money to people and help them out, but it's for show,' a former employee said
'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' has been hit by fresh allegations from former employees who said they faced bullying and racism behind the scenes and were fired for even attending family funerals. At least 10 former staff members and one current employee of Ellen DeGeneres' talk show spoke to Buzzfeed anonymously and claimed that the show's mantra "Be Kind" was only for the TV. "That 'be kind' bulls**t 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," one former employee said.
Though most ex-employees made no specific claims against DeGeneres and blamed executive producers and other senior managers for the toxic work culture, one former staffer said that at the end of the day, it is Ellen's name on the show. "She really needs to take more responsibility". "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. 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 unnamed staff told the outlet.
A Black woman who also used to work on the famous show, which has been airing since 2003, claimed that during her tenure she faced racism and "microaggressions". In her allegations, the woman said that after she got the job, a senior-level producer told her and another Black worker, "Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don't get you confused." Recalling one of the work parties, she said a main writer of the show said to her face "I'm sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here" while people present there "awkwardly laughed it off" instead of confronting the writer.
The former employee added that when she raised her voice against the discrimination, all her co-workers started ignoring her. "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 bulls**t," she said.
The African-Amerian woman said that eventually, she left the job. She also stated that amid the Black Lives Matter protests, she got a call from her manager from the show who apologized to her for the unkind behavior. But she said it was too late for a sorry. "I feel angry about the way I was treated and I am always going to stand up for Black, Indigenous, Latino and Asian people, regardless if they're around. I can't say anything. I'm not going to stop talking," the ex-employee said.
Adding to the allegations, another former employee said: "I think it is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the show’s brand. They pull on people's heartstrings; they do know that's going to get likes and what people are going to go for, which is a positive message. But that's not always reality."
Another former employee said after they took leave on three occasions, which included taking medical leave for three weeks due to a car accident, working remotely for two days to attend a family member's funeral, and then leave for three days to travel for another family member's funeral, they were fired. "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," the former staffer claimed.
Meanwhile, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner have issued a statement to Buzzfeed, saying they take the allegations "very seriously". "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. 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.
"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," the executive producers added.