Netflix still finds itself dealing with the fallout after Dave Chappelle’s recent comedy special, “The Closer.” Now, two former employees of the streamer filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the streamer of firing them in retaliation for speaking out against Chappelle and Netflix’s handling of the special.
The charge was filed on Wednesday by former Netflix employees B. Pagels-Minor, a Netflix program manager, and Terra Field, a software engineer. The filing accuses Netflix of “engag[ing] in the above activity [firing] to quell employees from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner.”
Pagels-Minor was fired on October 13, allegedly for providing information to a Bloomberg article revealing that the streamer paid $24.1 million for “The Closer,” while Field was suspended (and later reinstated) after attending a meeting meant only for executives. On October 20, trans employees staged a virtual walkout in protest of Netflix’s defense of Chappelle’s special.
Organized by trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston, the purpose of the event was to support Netflix employees as they presented their demands to Sarandos. “Artivists/Creators, grassroots organizers, public figures and supporters spanning multiple communities are coming together to underscore the importance of responsible content offerings that prioritize the safety and dignity of all marginalized communities,” Preston wrote on Instagram. “We aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment, while establishing policies and guidelines that protect employees and consumers, alike.”
In the lead-up to the rally and walkout, a number of celebrities, personalities, and other luminaries took to social media to share their support for the action under the #NetflixWalkout hashtag. Elliot Page wrote on Twitter that he “stand[s] with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace.” Lilly Wachowski added, “If you’re not standing up for trans lives, you need to take a good look at who you ARE standing with.” Billy Eichner tweeted that he was “Sending my love and full support to all trans employees and their allies participating in the #NetflixWalkout today.”
In a statement initially sent to The Hollywood Reporter a Netflix spokesman said, “We recognize the hurt and pain caused to our trans colleagues over the last few weeks. But we want to make clear that Netflix has not taken any action against employees for either speaking up or walking out.”