Just months after sources alleged "cold" behavior on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, former employees are now coming forward with claims of a "toxic work environment" in a damning new investigation from BuzzFeed News. In a report published Thursday, one current and 10 former employees of DeGeneres spoke out about the comedian on the condition of anonymity and revealed the eponymous talk show host isn't as cheery or "kind" as she seems.
Among the 11 employees who shared their accounts with the outlet, they each revealed how they experienced intimidation and fear behind the scenes, in addition to racism through microaggressions. "That 'be kind' bulls— only happens when the cameras are on," the employee, who remains anonymous, said. "It's all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it's for show."
While no specific claims were made against DeGeneres, a number of the interviewed employees state they were also subjected to favoritism by executive producers and were told to not speak to DeGeneres if she was in the office. They also further disclose how executive producers and other senior managers were to blame for day-to-day toxicity. However, one former employee asserts that because the show is in DeGeneres' name, "she really needs to take more responsibility" for the workplace environment.
"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," the former employee said. "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."
Another employee claims that while so many will "focus on rumors about how Ellen is mean and everything like that," that's not the main problem with the show. "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," the employee said. "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.'"
In an account from a former Black employee who worked on the show, she revealed her experience with "microaggressions" from the producers, revealing she was "reprimanded" when asking for a raise and recommending staff take part in diversity and inclusion training. "I feel like I'm not alone in this," she said. "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."
The BuzzFeed News report, which was also corroborated by other show employees and medical records, details another former employee's account in which they took one-month medical leave following a suicide attempt. Upon their return to work, they were told their position was eliminated and there was no use for them.
In a separate incident, one employee claims they were fired after going on a three-week medical leave for car accident injuries, working from home for two days to attend a family funeral, and using three days off to travel for another family funeral. "That's the definition of a toxic work environment, where they make you feel like you're going insane and then you're like, no, everything I was feeling was right. It was all leading up to this," the employee shared.
In a statement to E! News, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner revealed they are taking the claims "very seriously," replying in a statement: "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."