Dozens of former employees of the Ellen Show say that sexual harassment and misconduct occurred daily by some of the show’s top producers, creating a hostile work environment that controlled staff with fear and intimidation.
Three dozen former employees of the show, both men and women, spoke to BuzzFeed News about the sexual impropriety behind the scenes, recounting how top producers groped, fondled, kissed, and solicited sexual favors from staff members, often in the open but also in private.
According to BuzzFeed, the accusers range from longtime senior-level employees to production assistants. Many of the accusations were independently corroborated by staff members who spoke to BuzzFeed. All of the former employees wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, the outlet said.
Many of the allegations centered on executive producers Kevin Leman and Ed Glavin, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
One former Ellen Show employee told BuzzFeed that the sexual abuse at work had long-lasting repercussions.
“We’re young people who were forming our careers and were unfortunately subjected to a toxic work environment as some of our first jobs out of college,” the former employee said. “And some of us were sexually harassed and that’s what was shaping our careers our first year out of school.”
Several additional former employees disclosed to BuzzFeed that while the Ellen Show promoted kindness, mutual respect and inclusivity on the air, behind the scenes the culture was dominated by racism, assault and aggression. The accusations stretch back nearly 20 years to the show’s genesis, during which 3,000 episodes were created by 1,000 staff members.
Employees who suffered from sexual misconduct and threatening behavior by their higher-ups said they had no recourse. For some, the only option was to quit – not an easy choice in Hollywood’s highly competitive market where landing a gig on Ellen could make your career and resigning could break it.
Warner Brothers, which licenses the Ellen Show, declined to talk about specific allegations with BuzzFeed, saying it is conducting its own investigations. The studio said it “hopes to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture.”
“It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard,” Warner Bros. told BuzzFeed. “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.”
Workplace sexual harassment has been the topic of national conversations since the #MeToo movement provided victims a platform to reclaim their voice and seek justice for the wrongs committed against them. If you think you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, it is important to seek the immediate advice of an employment lawyer. Contact Larry Golston, Lauren Miles or Leon Hampton, lawyers in our firm’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section to discuss a possible claim.