Dr. Phil's show allegedly tried to ensure guest didn't take her medication so she'd 'look off the rails'

Dr. Phil
(Image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Dr. Phil's show has been accused by current and former employees of being a toxic work environment where guests are manipulated in unethical ways.

A report from BuzzFeed News cited a dozen current and former staffers of Dr. Phil who alleged they were subjected to verbal abuse working at the talk show and said the work environment is one "that fosters fear, intimidation, and racism." In particular, executive producer Carla Pennington was accused of screaming at and berating staffers.

The report also describes allegations that the show's guests are "manipulated and treated unethically," with one former staffer claiming they were once told to ensure a guest hadn't taken her medication before an appearance.

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"We were specifically instructed, 'Make sure that she doesn't take her medication before she goes onstage,' because they wanted her to look unstable and quote-unquote, 'crazy,' for lack of a better term," the former employee told BuzzFeed. "She did take the medication because no one got there in time and I remember thinking, 'My God, I don't want to be the one to tell them or dissuade them from that.' And that's all for the sake of TV. Obviously this girl should be on her medication and that's what we're trying to get her help for, but for the sake of TV they wanted her to look off the rails."

Additionally, employees were allegedly "encouraged to manipulate and convince [guests] of whatever they needed to hear in order to secure the booking" and were "discouraged from booking people of color." Pennington and other producers were accused of openly mocking guests.

An attorney for Phil McGraw denied the allegations, while a spokesperson for Dr. Phil dismissed the "click-bait" story and its "verifiably and objectively false characterizations and reporting." BuzzFeed News previously reported on allegations of a toxic work environment at Ellen DeGeneres' show, which led to multiple producers being fired.

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