TV | July 17, 2020 12:02 pm

Former “Ellen DeGeneres Show” Employees Reveal Racism, Toxic Work Environment

Some former staffers claim they were fired for taking time off to attend funerals

Ellen DeGeneres attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California
Ellen DeGeneres attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards in January 2020.

Ellen DeGeneres has centered her career around her “nice” persona, but a recent Buzzfeed News report reveals that the behind-the-scenes work environment at her daytime talk show is anything but nice. Ten former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and one current staffer revealed instances of racism and discrimination (including Black employees being told they looked alike), as well as a generally toxic work culture in which employees were fired for taking time off to attend funerals or deal with medical problems.

“That ‘be kind’ bulls— only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former staffer told the publication. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”

In response to the allegations, Ellen executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner issued a joint statement to Buzzfeed. “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,” it reads. “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.”

While most of the allegations are centered around executive producers and writers on the show rather than DeGeneres herself, one former employee told Buzzfeed the comedian still bears 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,” the former staffer said, adding, “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.”

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