Amid mounting reports of a toxic workplace culture behind the scenes at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, WarnerMedia has launched an internal investigation that will be spearheaded by the company’s employee relations group and a third-party firm, according to Variety.
Employees of the long-running talk show were informed via a memo sent by Telepictures and WBTV that current and former employees would be interviewed about the environment at the show whose host has long touted kindness as a rule she lives by.
Reports regarding the working conditions on DeGeneres’s show included a story early in the pandemic as filming ceased and eventually went virtual that at least 30 crew members had not been contacted for more than a month regarding the status of their pay or their hours. The crew was restored to full pay, and producers blamed the lack of communication on confusion during the pandemic.
A recent Buzzfeed story painted a damning picture of workplace culture on DeGeneres’s show. One of the numerous employees who spoke off the record was a Black woman who said she’d dealt with “racist comments, actions, and microagressions” during her tenure there. One former employee said they were fired for creating a GoFundMe page to cover medical costs the company wouldn’t, while others spoke of experiencing stress and depression related to the culture there.
Blame for the environment at DeGeneres’s show fell on executive producers and senior management, but one former employee said that DeGeneres should be more involved, especially since her name is attached.
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner released a statement at the time of the Buzzfeed report saying they take the allegations “very, very seriously.”
"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," they said. "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,” they added.