A contingent of current and former Ellen staffers have come out in a scathing rebuke of the show, saying that the ‘Be Kind’ ethos is just a front for a “toxic work environment” behind the scenes.
One current and ten former staffers spoke with Buzzfeed News on the condition of anonymity, to discuss the culture at the popular daytime talk show, and their experiences on set.
One former staffer said that she experienced various racist comments and actions during her time on the show, including a senior producer saying he feared he would confuse her with another Black employee.
She said that her colleagues referred to her as the “PC police”, adding:
“Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff. He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ‘I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bullshit.”
Others said that they were fired from the show after taking medical and bereavement leave, and were instructed not to speak to Ellen if they saw her around the show’s production offices.
Another former employee said:
“That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
Most of those who spoke to Buzzfeed blame senior staff and management for the toxic work environment, rather than the host herself, but one said:
“If [Ellen] 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.”
In a joint statement, the show’s executive producers said that they take the claims “very seriously”, adding:
“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.”