TV Host and entrepreneur, Ellen DeGeneres has apologized to her staff after Warner Bros Media inc. ordered an investigation into allegations of racism, maltreatment and intimidation by current and former staff.
According to the story published by Buzzfeed news early this month, the accusers claimed the workplace was toxic and “dominated by fear” and that some workers had been fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. Others said they were also instructed not to speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office.
One employee said she experienced racist comments, actions, and “microaggressions” during her 18 months on the show, a stark contrast to the public image of DeGeneres and her show.
Ellen, who has presented the show for 17 years has a mantra “be kind to one another”, and described her programme as “a place of happiness”.
“That ‘be kind’ [stuff] only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told Buzzfeed. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
In an email to staff obtained by the Hollywood reporter, Ellen apologised and said she was “committed to ensuring this does not happen again”.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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,” she added.