Black Trans Ex-Netflix Employee Speaks Out About Being Fired Amid Dave Chappelle Backlash

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she…
Netflix Walkout
Photo Credit: Frederic J. Brown for AFP

“First and foremost, I am the person who was fired,” said B. Pagels-Minor in an interview. “Before I left Netflix, my actual title was game-launch operations program manager.”

B. Pagels-Minor, a former Trans leader at Netflix who is Black is speaking out about the public-facing weeks the streaming platform has been facing and being fired.

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer has been in the news cycle for weeks, and it’s been brought into question due to the inflammatory transphobic banter that was prevalent in it. Immediately following its release there was backlash externally, but also internally within Netflix. Three employees were suspended for joining a conference call scheduled for company leaders, including Terra Field, a trans software engineer. Each of these employees has since been reinstated. 

Employee resource groups including Black @Netflix and Trans* at Netflix led discussions that eventually turned into a walkout. Here’s where Pagels-Minor comes in, as a Black trans nonbinary person who uses pronouns they/them, Pagels-Minor says they were fired hours after announcing the walkout that directly addressed how Netflix was publicly supporting Chappelle. They were the co-lead of both employee-resource groups.

Netflix denies the claims above. Per Vulture, the former employee says they were not the leak that disclosed confidential information. They have decided to step forward and speak for themselves publicly. In regards to the special, they shared, “We’re not asking you to take down the content.” They added, “We’re asking you to potentially put a trigger warning on that content but also to look into investing time and money in creating content that shows the other side of the story.

Pagels-Minor shares additional thoughts on the special:

“The problem is not necessarily about the special. It’s about this ongoing conversation that felt false. There’s gonna be content that people disagree with. There’s no question about that. But how do you create parity in content? How do you create another story, another documentary, another show, another film that combats the story that Dave Chappelle is putting forward. Why aren’t you investing in that?”

On being fired:

“First and foremost, I am the person who was fired. Before I left Netflix, my actual title was game-launch operations program manager. And I was the co-lead of Black@ Netflix and Trans* at Netflix. Not only that, I was the face of Netflix for several external campaigns to help with recruitment. The internal comms team that deals with PR would come to me and say, ‘We’re thinking about doing something. Would you be interested in representing?’ I’ve been in tech since 2010. I’ve been in a lot of toxic tech companies.” 

They go on to express that Netflix was a company that made them feel like themselves and that colleagues did not misgender them. “I chose Netflix because it was going to be the place that I was not going to have to worry about any of this.”

On the leak:

“I created publicly viewable Google documents and things that people could use, and I shared this information broadly. Ultimately they think that I facilitated the leak by creating these folders of information.”

Pagels-Minor also shared that they’re currently 33 weeks pregnant and do not need the stress that’s been in their life surrounding their firing from Netflix. They say the company believes they facilitated a leak despite an explanation explicitly stating that is false. Following back-and-forth communication between Pagels-Minor and Netflix, the company opted to send an investigator to their home to pick up their devices that were owned by the company.

“Now I feel like I have to talk to the press in order to defend myself and hopefully come to an amicable resolution over all of this,” they said. “I really want to see Netflix have some movement on the demands from the Trans* employee-resource group. I think that everything that has been asked for will actually make the company better and prepare the company for attitudes and how gender is changing over time.

B. Pagels-Minor is also hoping that speaking publicly about the last few weeks will lead to a reasonable solution from a severance perspective.

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