One current and ten former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show have anonymously come forward to reveal just how "toxic" the work environment actually is.
Ellen has been slammed in recent months with allegations of bullying which first arose through a Twitter thread, which asked people to respond with ‘insane stories’ they’d heard about Ellen ‘being mean’.
People responded with allegations of wild demands the star has reportedly made and what she was really like on the set of the show.
The employees came forward to Buzzfeed News and revealed that working on the show isn't what viewers would likely expect with some revealing they were fired for taking medical leave, bereavement days, faced microagressions and more.
While the employees didn't make specific claims against Ellen herself, they did reveal that they were told not to speak to her when she was in the office.
One former employee said, "People focus on rumours about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that's not the problem."
"The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean. They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there: ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we'll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.'"
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner shared a joint statement to the website, which said they were taking the stories "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."
A Black woman who worked on the show said she experienced numerous "microagressions" and was "reprimanded" when she asked Ed for a raise and for suggesting staff members should be undergoing diversity and inclusion training – for which she was labeled "the PC police".
She revealed when she was hired a senior-level producer said to her and another Black employee, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” And at a work party, she said, one of the show's writers told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.” Other coworkers “awkwardly laughed it off” instead of coming to her defence.
She said that for years she had "a fear of speaking out", but has since been inspired to share her experiences because of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I feel like I'm not alone in this," she said. "We all feel this. We've been feeling this way, but I've been too afraid to say anything because everyone knows what happens when you say something as a Black person. You're blacklisted."
Another former employee revealed that they took one-month medical leave following a suicide attempt. When they returned to work, they were told their position was being eliminated.
Someone else said they were fired after taking three days off for medical leave following a car accident, as well as working remotely for two days to attend a family funeral and taking another three days off for another family funeral.
"That's the definition of a toxic work environment, where they make you feel like you're going insane and then you're like, no, everything I was feeling was right. It was all leading up to this," they said.
These were corroborated by multiple former Ellen employees as well as medical records.
A third former employee was given a warning after creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs that weren't covered by their company insurance and then shared it on social media.
They were quickly called into the department head's office and told to take it down as it might hurt Ellen's image.
A month later, they were fired after posting a selfie of them and other coworkers laughing on their personal Instagram Story, which was a violation of their contract. However, others had shared similar photos before and they weren't reprimanded.
"Be kind to the world,” they said, “not your employees."
The former employees revealed that if you are well-liked by producers you're treated much better and even given gifts that the show receives from sponsors. However, they claimed those who push back on senior producers usually won't have their contracts renewed.
"They hire people who maybe are inexperienced with how a functional, nontoxic work environment actually is, or someone who just wants to be in that atmosphere so bad that they'll put up with it," one former employee said.
"They kind of feed off of that, like, ‘This is Ellen; this is as good as it gets. You'll never find anything better than this.'"
One employee said that Ellen could improve things if she was just more involved.
"If she 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. I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody's happy,' and she just believes that, but it's her responsibility to go beyond that," they said.
While some former employees defended the work culture, others, who had experience in the industry on other shows, said that the experience of working on The Ellen DeGeneres Show was particularly negative.
They added that when people did leave or got fired, the managers would never address it.
"We had Friday morning weekly meetings, and sometimes people who we worked with forever just wouldn’t be there... like, they disappeared, and it was never explained."