Staff received a memo last week from the executives of the daytime talk show’s producer, Telepictures, and distributor, Warner Bros. Television, advising that WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm would interview current and former staffers about their experiences on set, multiple news outlets confirmed.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. declined to comment. WarnerMedia did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The investigation comes in the wake of accusations that the show, which hangs on DeGeneres’s personal brand to “be kind” to others, has become a toxic work environment for its staffers.
In April, Variety reported that the core stage crew heard almost nothing from their bosses for weeks during initial coronavirus lockdowns other than to expect significant pay reductions, creating anxiety among crew members who sought clarity on whether they would need to apply for unemployment benefits. Concerns were exacerbated when an outside, non-union team was brought in as remote filming began from DeGeneres’s home. However, the show’s crew was restored to full pay prior to the publication of Variety’s report.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News, citing one current and 10 former employees, reported that employees were subject to a culture of racism, fear and intimidation on the job. Some sources said they were fired for taking medical leave and family bereavement days.
One former employee, a Black woman, told the news site she faced multiple racist comments and microaggressions during her 18-month tenure.
Most sources reportedly blamed the senior production and management staff for the daily toxicity, not DeGeneres herself. However, one staffer called for DeGeneres to take responsibility for the workplace environment.
In a statement to BuzzFeed at the time, executive producers Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner and Mary Connelly 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.”