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Employees describe 'fear and intimidation' behind the scenes at The Ellen DeGeneres Show

While there have been negative rumors about working for Ellen DeGeneres for years, 11 current and former employees of her daytime television show who spoke with BuzzFeed News confirmed that "they faced racism, fear, and intimidation" behind the scenes. "That 'be kind' bulls--t only happens when the cameras are on," one former employee claimed. "It's all for show."

The Ellen DeGeneres Show employees, all of whom remained anonymous out of fear of retribution, said they were directed not to talk to the host, and endured demeaning comments and treatment by higher-level staff, including a senior-level producer joking that he hoped he wouldn't get two Black employees confused because they both had box braids.

Others described seemingly being punished for taking medical leave — one employee who spent a month in a mental health facility for a suicide attempt returned to find their job eliminated — and others had to fight supervisors and HR to get time off to attend family funerals, or for serious health reasons. One employee was even scolded for creating a GoFundMe page to pay medical costs not covered by the company's health insurance, out of concerns about how it would make DeGeneres look. "They were more concerned about Ellen's brand instead of helping me out," the employee said.

"I think it is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the show’s brand," another former employee told BuzzFeed News. "They pull on people's heartstrings … But that's not always reality." Read more about what employees say it's like to work for The Ellen DeGeneres Show here.