Ellen DeGeneres Addresses Workplace Allegations in Letter to Staff

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Ellen DeGeneres has addressed the allegations made by current and former employees about the "toxic" work environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

In an internal letter sent to show staff, obtained by ET on Thursday, DeGeneres apologized and affirmed that she was committed to "having conversations about fairness and justice." 

"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," DeGeneres wrote in her letter. "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... 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."

DeGeneres said she was glad the the problems had been brought to her attention and noted that she and Warner Bros. were taking steps to "correct the issues," pending the results of their internal investigation.

"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," she continued. "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... 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."

In a statement to ET on Thursday, Warner Bros. offered more information on the internal investigation, saying that they, and 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," they explained. "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."

"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 continued. "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 concluded her statement, first obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, by praising her staff, saying, "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."

Warner Bros. Television sent an internal memo last week informing staffers that WarnerMedia would be seeking the services of an independent third-party firm, which will interview current and former employees about their experiences behind the scenes on the popular daytime talk show, after one current and 10 former employees anonymously spoke with BuzzFeed News about their experience on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in an article published July 16.

A rep for the show declined to comment on the reports regarding the investigation.

No specific claims against host Ellen DeGeneres were made, however, the article said that the producers made the set a "toxic work experience" for many. Among the claims were mentions of being fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days, with others claiming they were told not to speak to DeGeneres if she was in the office.

On July 17, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin and Andy Lassner -- executive producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show -- expressed their regret over the former employees' experiences in a statement released to ET.

"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. We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience," Connelly, Glavin and Lassner said in the joint statement. "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," the statement added. "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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