Ellen DeGeneres Show Ex-Staffers Allege 'Toxic Work Environment' as Producers Vow to 'Do Better'

"It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us," the talk show's executive producers said in a statement

Former Ellen DeGeneres Show employees are alleging a "toxic work environment" behind the scenes of the daytime talk show.

In a new BuzzFeed News report, one current and 10 former employees of the daytime talk show, hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, spoke anonymously about their experiences on set. The staffers claimed they were penalized for taking medical leave and afraid to bring forward complaints, and a Black employee cited instances of being faced with racial microaggressions.

Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner said in a statement to the outlet 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. "We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience."

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Ellen DeGeneres. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

"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."

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In BuzzFeed's report, the ex-employees claim that the talk show's "be kind" attitude is "all for show." One former staffer recalled racist remarks by coworkers about her hairstyle, claiming a senior-level producer told her and a fellow Black employee, "Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused," according to BuzzFeed. She also claimed a writer joked to her, in front of others, that they only remembered the names of white staffers.

She told BuzzFeed that she hesitated speaking out on the subject because she feared retribution.

“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.”

“I feel angry about the way I was treated, and I am always going to stand up for Black, Indigenous, Latino and Asian people, regardless if they’re around,” she added. “I can’t not say anything; I’m not going to stop talking.”

No specific allegations were made against DeGeneres, 62, who has hosted the long-running program since 2003. One former employee suggested producers hid workplace complaints from her.

"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.

Another past staffer said employees felt afraid to come forward with workplace issues, as another said they knew the way they say they were treated "isn't normal."

"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,” said one previous employee.

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