Dozens of former Ellen DeGeneres Show employees accused executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman of sexual misconduct and harassment. The allegations come as the show is under fire for multiple allegations of a hostile work environment, prompting WarnerMedia to launch an investigation into the most popular daytime talk show in the country. DeGeneres did address the allegations in a letter apologizing to staffers and vowing to "correct the issues."
Several former staffers described instances of sexual misconduct and harassment in interviews with BuzzFeed News, published late Thursday. One accused Leman, who also serves as head writer, of asking if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex at a 2013 party. Another accused Leman of grabbing a production assistant's penis. One said she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss the man's neck in May 2017.
Almost a dozen former employees said it was "common" for Leman to make sexually explicit comments and he allegedly targeted younger employees. Thirty-six former employees who spoke with BuzzFeed independently corroborated incidents of sexual misconduct, assault, and harassment from Leman and other top executive producers. They all requested anonymity out of fear of retribution.
Leman denied these allegations, telling BuzzFeed News he is "horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense." Leman added, "I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity, and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published."
Multiple employees also made allegations about Glavin touching them or making them feel uncomfortable. Some said he "had a reputation for being handsy with women." One former female employee said you "could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching" and it was "out in the open." Another said Glavin would touch assistants inappropriately in front of 30 people.
Some former employees described Glavin as leading the crew with "intimidation and fear" daily. Five former employees said Glavin had a button on his desk to remotely shut his office door, while another employee said Glavin flipped over a table and chair and screamed when they turned in their notice. Multiple former staffers said it was uncomfortable to see Glavin use a private shower in his office.
One former employee accused another executive producer, Jonathan Norman, of "grooming" him and tried to perform oral sex on him. Norman denied these allegations. "I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever," Norman told BuzzFeed. "The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show."
Former employees also said there was no way to confidentially file HR reports and some producers even advised against going to Warner Bros.' HR. A former Warner Bros. employee said the company ignored alleged misconduct at the show because it is a "cash cow." Some also said they believe DeGeneres was "insulated" from the behind-the-scenes culture. Another former employee disputed this though and said it was hard to believe DeGeneres would be unaware.
In the letter she sent to staff on Thursday, DeGeneres admitted she relied on others to manage the show. “As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t,” DeGeneres wrote. “That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”