What Has Ellen DeGeneres Said About 'Toxic' Workplace Allegations?

The Ellen DeGeneres Show may have been built on the mantra of "be kind," but a number of former employees told a Buzzfeed reporter that they felt they had not been treated with kindness—in fact, they allege they have been treated with racism, intimidation, and have been terminated for attending family funerals.

As one former Ellen employee told Buzzfeed News: "That 'be kind' bulls*** only happens when the cameras are on. It's all for show."

These allegations led to an in-house investigation by WarnerMedia being undertaken, which according to The Hollywood Reporter has nearly been completed.

In response to the articles about what Buzzfeed called the "toxic work culture" of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, its host sent a letter to staff in which she apologized for the actions done in her name.

However, in this letter, she suggests she knew nothing about the atmosphere created on her show, saying she is "disappointed to learn" of the accusations.

However, one former employee told Buzzfeed: "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."

DeGeneres' letter (per The Hollywood Reporter) reads as follows:

"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.

ellen degeneres accusations
Ellen DeGeneres sent a letter to staff after allegations about a toxic work environment on her show emerged, Getty

"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.

"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.

"It's been way too long, but we're finally having conversations about fairness and justice. 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.

"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 response to the accusations, Ellen DeGeneres Show executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner said: "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."