Ellen DeGeneres Apologizes to Talk Show Staff in Letter Addressing Workplace Complaints
Ellen DeGeneres is addressing workplace "issues" at her talk show after numerous former staffers made allegations about its behind-the-scenes culture.
Days after news broke that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would undergo an internal investigation by WarnerMedia, DeGeneres, 62, sent a lengthy memo to staff, in which she said she is "glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention" and that they are "taking steps ... to correct" them.
"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," DeGeneres began her message, which was obtained by PEOPLE.
"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," she continued.
DeGeneres went on to say that some people she works with have been speaking on her behalf and misrepresenting her.
"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," said DeGeneres. "It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice."
The talk show host then said she is "glad the issues" were brought to her attention, and she is promising to do her "part" in pushing herself and others "to learn and grow."
"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," said the comedian.
She concluded: "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."
In a statement from Warner Bros. on Thursday, the network said it "interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment" of the show and were "disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management."
"Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres take the recent allegations around the show’s workplace culture very seriously. We hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture. As a result, WarnerMedia interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world," the statement reads.
"And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management," the statement continues.
Moving forward, Warner Bros. has "identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion," the statement concludes. "We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”
According to a report from Variety on Thursday, executive producer Ed Glavin is set to exit his role. A rep for Warner Bros. declined to comment about Glavin's reported departure.
On Monday, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both reported that DeGeneres' talk show would undergo an internal investigation by WarnerMedia. Reps for The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Warner Bros. Television declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE, and a rep for DeGeneres had no comment at the time.
Telepictures and Warner Bros. TV executives sent a memo to Ellen Show staffers last week announcing they had engaged WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm, according to Variety. Current and former staffers were reportedly set to be interviewed about their experiences on set. The memo cited recent articles as the reason for the workplace investigation, per the outlet.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News published a report in which previous employees alleged there is a "toxic work environment" behind the scenes of the daytime talk show. One current and 10 former staffers spoke anonymously about their experiences on set, including claims of being penalized for taking medical leave, instances of racial microaggressions and fear of retribution for raising complaints.
Executive producers Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner said in a statement at the time that they take full responsibility for daily operations on the show.
"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 in a joint statement to BuzzFeed. "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," they added. "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."