Just as internationally viewed The Ellen DeGeneres Show scrambles to do damage control and address accusations that the show is hostile and a toxic working environment, another bomb has landed.
In addition to dozens of former employees of the talk show lifting the lid on an alleged culture of bullying taking place behind-the-scenes, “handsy” senior staff are now also being accused of sexual harassment.
Although sexual harassment has been and is still rife within the workplace, buses often went unreported because it’s often a case of get paid or get laid.
However, 2017 became the watershed moment in public disclosures of sexual harassment – and Hollywood has been getting the lion’s share of offences both past and present.
Nearly a dozen ex-staff members of Ellen’s show have now come forward with accounts of head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman making sexually explicit comments in the office.
And Leman’s sexual predatory behaviour goes back as far as seven years.
One male ex-employee recalled Leman allegedly asking if he would touch his genitals or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a 2013 company party, while another recalled seeing Leman grab a production assistant’s penis on a separate occasion.
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that,” one of the former employees told Buzzfeed News this week.
In written communication to the show’s employees, DeGeneres appeared to deny any knowledge of her producers’ behaviour and yet apologised to her ex-staff while vowing to ensure better treatment of workers in future.
“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. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry.”