Ellen DeGeneres talkshow staff say they faced 'racism, fear and intimidation' at work

Ellen DeGeneres talkshow staff say they faced 'racism, fear and intimidation' at work

Staff working on Ellen DeGeneres’ award-winning daytime talk show, The Ellen Show, have alleged that they experienced “racism, fear and intimidation”, during their stint on the programme.

BuzzFeed News spoke to 10 former employees and one current staff member for an expose that levelled accusations of toxic behaviour from senior staff.

While Ellen herself is not directly accused of perpetuating the dire working conditions herself, staff did say she “needs to take more responsibility” for what goes on 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,” one former employee told BuzzFeed News.

“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”.

What have Ellen Show staff accused producers of?

The BuzzFeed News report details a range of claims from former and current staff.

Some of the most shocking are:

A Black woman suffering targeted racist abuse

A Black former Ellen Show employee alleges that during the 18 months she worked on the show, senior producers joked about confusing her with another Black employee while one of the main writers on the programme told her: “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here,” at a work party.

The woman also alleged that when she talked to producers about issues with race within the show, she was nicknamed the “PC police”.

As her complaints about discrimination within the show got louder, and she suggested diversity training for staff, she said she was reprimanded by the show’s executive producer, Ed Glavin.

“He said that I was walking around looking resentful and angry,” she told reporters.

The woman quit that day and didn’t return to her job – or the entertainment industry.

An employee was allegedly fired after a suicide attempt

Another former Ellen Show staffer said they were fired after taking medical leave following a suicide attempt.

The employee took a month off to check into a mental health facility, after nearly a year working on the programme.

But when they returned from leave, they were told their “position had been eliminated”.

“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 told BuzzFeed News, who say evidence “corroborates” their account.

“Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma. They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra”.

A staff member was allegedly warned for creating a fundraiser for medical costs

One employee says they were told to take down a fundraiser for vital medical bills not covered by the NBC’s show’s insurance policy because it “might hurt DeGeneres’s image”.

“They discovered my fundraiser, then got mad at me. … They were more concerned about Ellen’s brand instead of helping me out,” said the former employee.

The staff member said they were later fired for posting a selfie with their co-workers on their personal Instagram account, a violation of their contract others had committed without ramifications.

Other employees also reported being fired for taking medical leave and that producers rewarded staff members who don’t complain about the work environment with “swag” like iPhones, kept from show sponsors.

Has Ellen DeGeneres commented on the allegations?

Ellen herself has made no comment on the report yet, although indy100 has reached to her representatives and the show for comment.

Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner made a joint statement to BuzzFeed News, seemingly directing blame away from their boss.

They said:

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.

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.

Watch this space.

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