Former ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ Employees Accuse Producers of Racism, Toxic Work Environment

“That ‘be kind’ bulls— only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former staffer told BuzzFeed News

Kevin Hart Ellen DeGeneres
Photo credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Former employees of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” made accusations of racism and a toxic work environment against the daytime talker’s producers in a story published by BuzzFeed News Thursday.

According to BuzzFeed News, 10 former employees and one current “Ellen” staffer — who all asked to remain anonymous — detailed instances of the negative culture at Ellen DeGeneres’ show, including “microaggressions” toward an employee of color and occasions where individuals were fired for taking time off to attend funerals or due to medical problems.

One former employee, a Black woman, told BuzzFeed News that when she was hired, a senior-level producer commented on how she and another Black employee both had box braids and told her they hoped that wouldn’t lead to the two being confused for each other. The former employee also said that at a work party, one of the show’s main writers said to her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here,” and her coworkers “awkwardly laughed it off.”

This former employee says that, after a year working at “Ellen,” she requested a raise once she learned a recently hired staffer made double what she did for the same role, and her manager told her “they’d see what they could do,” but nothing happened for months until she was called into a meeting with executive producer Ed Glavin, according to BuzzFeed News.

In this meeting, the individual says Glavin chastised her for requesting a raise, as well as for her previous objections to the show’s use of the term “spirit animal” and her suggestion that “Ellen” employees receive diversity and inclusion training.

According to BuzzFeed News, the former employee says Glavin told her she was “walking around looking resentful and angry” and after the meeting she left the show and never came back.

“I feel like I’m not alone in this,” the former employee told BuzzFeed News. “We all feel this. We’ve been feeling this way, but I’ve been too afraid to say anything because everyone knows what happens when you say something as a Black person. You’re blacklisted.”

Among the other accusations made by former “Ellen” staffers in the BuzzFeed News story are claims that individuals have been fired for taking bereavement and sick leave. One employee claims they were reprimanded by producers for creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for their uncovered medical bills “because of concerns it might hurt DeGeneres’s image,” and were fired a month later for posting a selfie that was taken at the office.

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

These former employees place most of the blame for the show’s “day-to-day- toxicity” on the “Ellen” executive producers and other senior managers, according to BuzzFeed News.

In response to the accusations made by the anonymous individuals cited in the story, “Ellen” executive producers Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner issued this joint statement to BuzzFeed News: “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.”

One former employee told BuzzFeed News that, “if [DeGeneres] 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,” 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.”

When reached for comment by TheWrap, a spokesperson for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” referred back to the statement Glavin, Connelly and Lassner provided to BuzzFeed News.

Representatives for DeGeneres and Warner Bros. TV, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s” distributor, did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.