The Ellen DeGeneres Show is under investigation following numerous accounts of a ‘toxic’ and ‘bullying’ workplace culture.
An internal investigation is being launched by WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm, Variety reported Monday, to look into staff experiences on set.
Employees received a memo last week from executives at producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. Television explaining that current and former staffers will be interviewed.
The memo cited recent articles about treatment of crew, with allegations of mistreatment, racism and intimidation on the show as the impetus for the investigation, according to Variety.
However, show host Ellen DeGeneres, 62, hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing herself.
One of the staff members who received the memo revealed it ‘underscored their commitment to providing an environment where employees can flourish’.
Earlier this month a number of employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show blasted it as a ‘toxic work environment’.
One current and 10 former employees of the daytime chat show have accused the three executive producers, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, of ‘bullying’.
A source told Buzzfeed: ‘The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean.’
‘They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there: “So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.”‘
Although DeGeneres has not been accused of any wrongdoing, employees have claimed they were instructed not to talk to her if they saw her in the building.
One former employee said: ‘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.’
A Black woman claims she suffered a number of ‘microaggressions’, her request for a raise was ignored and she was accused of ‘walking around looking resentful and angry’ after asking for staff members to undergo diversity and inclusion training.
Another former employee alleges they were fired after taking medical leave for one month following a suicide attempt.
They said: ‘You’d think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives.’
Executive producers Glavin, Connelly and Lassner have released a statement in light of the investigation.
‘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,’ the statement added.
‘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.’
In April it was reported that production crew were angry at the lack of communication and transparency from bosses after being forced to take pay cuts when production first shut down amid the coronvarius outbreak.
A group of around 30 crew members were upset after Ellen hired an external nonunion company called Key Code Media to film the shows while quarantined at home.
‘Higher-ups in production would occasionally answer phone calls but reveal little’ to the crew members, who had their pay slashed by 40 percent amid changes brought about by the virus, insiders told Variety.
Sources told the outlet that this was not the case with all the shows, as crews for John Oliver, Desus and Mero and Samantha Bee were paid their full rates, while Jimmy Kimmel dipped into his own pocket for a time to keep his staff getting their regular rates.
Producers responded that ‘Our executive producers and Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind.’
A month earlier, numerous reports from previous employees emerged claiming that Ellen had been unfriendly on set and that crew members were warned not to talk to the host or make eye contact.
A series of tweets from comic Kevin T. Porter March 20 asking his followers to post ‘insane’ tales of ‘Ellen being mean’ caught the attention of social media. (Porter’s effort was linked to a charity drive for the Los Angeles Food Bank.)
Writer Ben Simeon said that ‘a new staff member was told, “Every day she picks someone different to really hate. It’s not your fault, just suck it up for the day and she’ll be mean to someone else the next day.” They didn’t believe it, but it ended up being entirely true.’
‘Everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.’
Ellen – who Forbes reported is worth around $330 million – has also caught flak for tone deafness after joking that locking down in her opulent mansion was ‘like being in jail.’
Earlier this month, reps for the show were forced to deny reports that show was on the verge of being cancelled. ‘Telepictures can confirm it’s untrue,’ reps for the talk show host’s production company told the New York Post.
DeGeneres has continued to broadcast her daytime show – which she’s been doing since 2003 – from her living room of the Montecito, California mansion she shares with wife Portia De Rossi, 47.