Netflix Hit With New Legal Challenge From Fired Employees in Dave Chappelle Controversy Fallout

In the latest update to Netflix's Dave Chappelle debacle, the streamer is now being charged with "unfair labor practices" by the National Labor Relations Board. Deadline reports the board has named Netflix chief Ted Sarandos as the "employer representative," in the suit, which says Netflix program manager B. Pagels-Minor and suspended senior software engineer Terra Field faced punitive action by the streamer under "false and pretextual reasons" and "retaliation." 

Pagels-Minor and Field filed legal paperwork on Oct. 27, shortly after the staged walk-out took place in protest against Netflix's added protection of Dave Chappelle in light of his recent special, The Closer. The new stand-up was criticized by many LGBTQ organizations for several comments the comic made, which were deemed to be transphobic. Pagels-Minor, who identifies as non-binary, and Field, who is trans, were part of a select few people who faced action against them from the company for their parts in connection to the controversy. 

Pagels-Minor was fired for allegedly leaking sensitive information pertaining to Chappelle's payment for the special to members of the press. Field received a brief suspension for supposedly listening in on a private meeting with a few other Netflix employees. Though, they were eventually reinstated.  

"Netflix engaged in the above activity to quell employees from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix's products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner," attorney Laurie M. Burgess said on behalf of clients Pagels-Minor and Field. 

The streamer quickly responded to the allegations in a statement, clarifying that the company hasn't retaliated against its employees for having opposing views or for walking out in protest. "We recognize the hurt and pain caused to our trans colleagues over the last few weeks," a spokesperson for the streamer told Deadline. "But we want to make clear that Netflix has not taken any action against employees for either speaking up or walking out." Upon recognizing the severity of the controversy, Sarandos released a statement echoing a different tune. 

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"I screwed up the internal communication — and I don't mean just mechanically," the exec said in a series of media appearances prior to the Oct. 20 walkout. "I feel I should've made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should've recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through. I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should've recognized that first."

Pagels-Minor has come forward since being let go, adamantly denying the allegations laid against them. "I want my child to grow up in a world where they see that their parent, a Black, trans person — because I exist, contrary to what the special says, contrary to what many people say — that I'm valued, and I'm an important person," Pagels-Minor said.