Ellen addresses workplace toxicity allegations in staff letter

Yahoo reports Ellen DeGeneres broke her silence about alleged workplace toxicity at the Ellen DeGeneres Show. In a staff letter obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, the 30-time Emmy winner said she takes “responsibility” as the program bears her name and said changes are forthcoming.

“Hey everybody — it’s Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case,” she began. “And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”

In a Buzzfeed report published earlier this month, one current and 10 former employees claimed the workplace environment was one one of racism, fear and intimidation. They largely pointed the finger at the program’s three executive producers — Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner — but noted the responsibility ultimately falls on the talk show host. This week, Variety reported the show was under internal investigation by WarnerMedia.

“I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that,” DeGeneres acknowledged. “Alongside Warner Bros., we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

DeGeneres continued, “I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.”

The 62-year-old comedian promised to do her part moving forward.

“It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow,” she says. “It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.

“I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it,” DeGeneres concludes. “Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.”

The Hollywood Reporter claims the internal investigation is largely complete, although what will happen is unclear. The report cites two sources who claim that executive producer Glavin is one of the employees who will be fired.

“Once he’s out, it will be like a new day,” a source close to the show told THR. The insider also alleged DeGeneres was “largely kept shielded from Glavin’s day-to-day handling or mishandling of the staff. Others are expected to be out as well.”

All three EP’s named in Buzzfeed’s report issued a joint statement earlier this month: “Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment. 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.”

A Warner Bros. spokesperson told THR the company and DeGeneres “take the recent allegations around the show’s workplace culture very seriously.”

Below is DeGeneres’ full letter to her staff:

Hey everybody — it’s Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.

I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.

I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.

It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.

I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.

Stay safe and healthy.

Love, 

Ellen