Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Trans Netflix Engineer Quits; Legal Case Against Company Withdrawn

Protest at Netflix

Two transgender people who worked at Netflix have withdrawn the unfair labor practices complaints they filed against the company, and the one who was still with the service has resigned.

Terra Field, an engineer who was suspended and eventually reinstated, and B. Pagels-Minor, a product manager who was fired, filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board last month alleging Netflix illegally retaliated against them for speaking out against comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, The Closer, in which he made transphobic and homophobic remarks.  

Both they and the company confirmed Monday that the complaints had been withdrawn, the Los Angeles Times reports. Netflix issued a statement saying, “We have resolved our differences in a way that acknowledges the erosion of trust on both sides and, we hope, enables everyone to move on.”

The parties declined to provide further information to the Times, such as whether a settlement had been reached — one possible outcome of a complaint to the NLRB — or if Netflix had made policy changes. The streaming service had refused to take down the Chappelle special, with co-CEO Ted Sarandos saying Chappelle’s jokes didn’t rise to the level of hate speech, but he later said the company could have handled the matter better. LGBTQ+ workers and their supporters staged a walkout October 20 to protest Netflix’s support of Chappelle.

Field did, however, tweet that she had resigned from Netflix as of this week. “This isn’t how I thought things would end, but I am relieved to have closure,” she said in her resignation letter, attached to her tweet. She praised the team in her work area at Netflix along with the trans employee resource group and the diversity and inclusion team.

She singled out Pagels-Minor, saying, “When I was looking to change teams at Netflix, when I was trying to decide if I needed a break from my ERG leadership role, and when I was suspended from Netflix in October, there was one person whose advice I sought in all three cases: B. Pagels-Minor. Shortly after B. was fired for something I did not and do not believe they did, I made a decision: sink or swim, I was going to walk side by side with B. as they had for so many of us while they led the Trans* ERG.”

Pagels-Minor gave birth to a son last week, Field wrote. “They are both happy and healthy, and for me that is the note that I’d like this chapter of my life to end on,” she continued. “I want to focus on the joy, not the heartache.”

Netflix contended that Field and Pagels-Minor were disciplined not for speaking out against Chapelle but for other reasons: Field for trying to attend a meeting to which she hadn’t been invited, and Pagels-Minor for leaking internal data to the press. Both of the workers disputed this.

The NLRB, an independent agency of the federal government tasked with investigating unfair labor practices, investigates all complaints it receives, and it can arrange a settlement between employees and employers or, if no settlement can be reached, hold a hearing before an administrative law judge, who then issues a decision in the case. The decisions can be appealed in court.

Field said she is “going to take a month to rest, recover, and consider what I want to do next.” She said he had been working practically nonstop since 2003. “Hopefully the time will allow me to remember the things I love and miss about this work,” she added.

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