Ellen DeGeneres' eponymous talk show has come under fire in recent weeks following claims that employees have been mistreated After weeks of reports claiming her show has a toxic work environment, DeGeneres finally responded to the accusations on July 30 in the form of an email to her staff. Ellen DeGeneres' apology letter to her employees addressed the alleged workplace wrongdoings at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and promised change is on the horizon.
DeGeneres' apology email, which Elite Daily has obtained, addressed the alleged workplace misconduct reported in a highly circulated July 16 Buzzfeed story. In that article, employees anonymously brought forth accusations of racism, intimidation, and toxic work culture at The Ellen DeGeneres Show — mostly perpetuated by executive producers and senior managers. DeGeneres has not been immune to criticism either; in the Buzzfeed article, one staff member pointed out DeGeneres should be ultimately responsible for her show. Further, these recent reports have reignited a flurry of other criticisms about DeGeneres, including a resurfaced Twitter thread from March in which people have been sharing stories about DeGeneres "being mean."
In response to all the discourse, DeGeneres wrote in her letter to her staff that she was "sorry" and "disappointed" that The Ellen DeGeneres Show was not the "place of happiness" she intended it to be. In her letter, she assured employees an ongoing internal investigation led by the show's parent company, Warner Bros., would work to correct the issues at hand. Employees were notified of this investigation on July 23, which is now largely complete, according to The Hollywood Reporter. On July 31, a representative from Warner Bros. told Elite Daily of the investigation:
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. 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. We have 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. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.
DeGeneres's letter also indicated changes will be made. "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," she wrote. "That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."
While DeGeneres did not name anyone specifically, many allegations surround the show's executive producers Ed Galvin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner, so it's possible DeGeneres was referring to them.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News in its July 16 report, the three producers released a joint statement taking responsibility for activities at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "We have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment," they said. "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."
In her letter, DeGeneres said she understands what it is like to be judged, referring to the backlash she faced after coming out as gay in the late 1990s: "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."
At the end of the letter, DeGeneres reiterated her commitment to make things right. "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 can't wait to be back on our stage and see you all then."
Read DeGeneres' letter in full:
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.
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.