Netflix Employees to Stage Walkout Over Dave Chappelle Special

Transgender employees and their allies plan to protest the company’s handling of concerns over “The Closer”

Photo: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

A group of Netflix employees is planning a company-wide walkout next week to protest the company’s handling of concerns over Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, according to reports from The Los Angeles Times and The Verge. The group includes both transgender employees and allies.

The walkout is slated for Oct. 20 and comes amid criticism of the streamer’s decision to release Chappelle’s stand-up special “The Closer,” in which he made several transphobic comments. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the special on Monday, writing in an email, “We don’t allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”

According to the LA Times, members and allies of the Netflix employee resource group Trans* plan to take Oct. 20 as a “day of rest” in protest. The walkout plan, posted to a public company Slack channel by a member of Trans*, (and shared with the Los Angeles Times) read: “I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day. … As we’ve discussed through Slack, email, texts and everything in between, our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held.”

The Slack message continued: “Between the numerous emails and non-answers that have been given, we have been told explicitly that we somehow cannot understand the nuance of certain content. I don’t know about you, but asking for us to show the whole story and not just the pieces that harm trans and [LGBTQ+] people is not an unreasonable ask. So, I encourage us all to state clearly that we, as Netflix employees are stunning not simply when we are doing the work that our roles demand of us but also when we challenge the very principles of our company.”

Another Netflix staffer told The Times that the walkout will happen one day after a virtual event for employees to discuss “The Closer” and its impact on the trans community.

News of the walkout comes one day after Netflix reinstated three employees who were suspended earlier this week for crashing an executive meeting, including Terra Field, a trans software engineer who publicly criticized the company’s decision to stream Chappelle’s special. At the time of the suspension, a Netflix representative told TheWrap that Field in particular was not suspended for tweeting about the special and that the company encourages its employees to speak openly; the suspensions, Netflix said, occurred because the employees were not authorized to attend the meeting.