Allegations of a toxic workplace on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, as well as claims that three executive producers engaged in sexual misconduct, staff members say they want higher-ups to be held accountable while they worry about their own fates.
One current longtime employee told BuzzFeed News they feel “vindicated” that the show’s parent company and DeGeneres addressed the staff this week. But after working on the popular daytime talk show for years, they’re skeptical about major fixes the show can make to improve the culture.
“It’s not just one bad seed, it’s all of them,” the employee, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said. “When you’ve worked on a show for so long, and so many of us have kept quiet for all of these years, you just want to scream and be like, ‘Fuck The Ellen Show.’ It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
Warner Bros. launched an internal investigation after a BuzzFeed News report in mid-July that detailed allegations from former employees that they endured racism, fear, and intimidation from top managers.
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DeGeneres also sent a letter to staffers on Thursday saying that despite the fact that the show was supposed to be a place of “happiness” where everyone would be treated with respect, “obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.”
She added that she had come to rely on others to stay on top of the day-to-day operation, but said: “My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that.”
Later that day, BuzzFeed News reported that three executive producers — Ed Glavin, Jonathan Norman, and Kevin Leman — engaged in sexual misconduct with lower-level employees. The allegations included groping, inappropriate touching, and soliciting oral sex from staffers.
Norman and Leven strongly denied the allegations. Glavin did not respond to a request for comment.
Some employees are hopeful about possible changes and say the recent reports have inspired staffers to speak more openly with one another. One employee said in order to feel more comfortable in the workplace, “we need a direct line to HR immediately” from the onboarding process onward.
“We need someone who’s actually on our side in a corporate environment,” the employee said. “Because even now, we have an internal investigation going on and it is really tough to feel confident to talk to them. They say they’re on our side, but the amount of exit interviews Warner does for us, they’ve heard all these complaints in these exit interviews…why did it take all these years for it to come forward?”
The longtime current employee said they want to see everyone in positions of power held accountable for perpetuating and remaining complicit in what they called a toxic work environment.