Dave Chappelle’s remarks about trans people during The Closer, followed by the aftermath, have led two Netflix employees to file unfair labor charges. That move follows about a month of backlash to Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, The Closer, in which he declared himself “Team TERF” and in agreement with J.K. Rowling’s statements about gender. Chappelle recently expressed relief at Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos “being the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.” That’s a messy situation, too, considering that Sarandos initially responded to The Closer controversy by declaring that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm” before Netflix issued an apologetic statement of support for employees who staged a walkout.
Amid those developments, the organizer of the walkout was fired, reportedly for leaking metrics, including a claim that Netflix spent over $24 million on The Closer, to Bloomberg. Fast forward a few weeks, and The Verge and The Hollywood Reporter have revealed that the fired employee and a current Netflix software engineer have filed unfair labor charges (with the National Labor Relations Board) against Netflix:
According to the NLRB filing, which names Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos as the employer representative, Netflix “engaged in the above activity 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.”
The Verge gave the first heads up on this development while revealing that B. Pagels-Minor (the terminated Netflix employee and a Black trans program manager) and Terra Field (a trans software engineer who was suspended after posting a viral tweet thread and was later reinstated) filed the charges with the NLRB. Their charges included accusations that Netflix retaliated against them for what they say is protected behavior, and in line with Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which has previously not gone well for employer policies that could have precluded Field from tweeting about the Chappelle controversy.
The Hollywood Reporter published a Netflix followup statement, in which the streamer “denied taking action” against any employees for “speaking up or walking out.” A Netflix spokesperson further declared, “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.”