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Netflix Fires Employee Who Encouraged Walkout Over Chappelle Special

Netflix claims they fired the employee because she leaked internal information to the press.

Netflix has fired the employee who was encouraging trans workers to walkout over the transphobic content featured on Dave Chappelle’s latest special, The Closer. According to The Verge, who broke the story, the employee is a Black pregnant woman, who first wrote in the company Slack encouraging employees to take a “day of rest” on October 20th. 

Netflic released a message to The Hollywood Reporter saying they didn’t fire the employee over the message but rather it was because she leaked internal information to Bloomberg that included information like how much money Chappelle from his last two special. (According to Bloomberg, Netflix paid $23.6 million for Sticks & Stones vs. an “impact value” of $19.4 million.)

The Closer was released on October 5th. And it has been hugely successful and controversial for Netflix.

The special includes an extended monologue talking about his relationship with the trans community and the fallout around Sticks & Stones. In The Closer, Dave Chappelle says he is Team TERF — trans-exclusionary radical feminist — and says “gender is a fact.” 

Last week, three members of the company’s staff were suspended after crashing  a virtual meeting with VPs, shareholders, and directors at Netflix. One of those employees, Terra Field, was an outspoken critic of the special on Twitter. Field, who identifies as trans and queer, and the other two employees, were all suspended for attending without informing the meeting organizer. A Netflix rep claimed the company’s action against its employees was due to their attendance at the meeting and not for being critical of Netflix and Chappelle’s special. “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.” On Tuesday, Field was reinstated.

Netflix co-Chief Executive Officer Ted Sarandos has stood by the special. In an internal memo he wrote, “We don’t allow Netflix titles that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.” He also wrote that he wants to make Netflix ensures “marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story” and named shows like Sex Education, Orange Is the New Black, and Nanette. This part set off comedian Hannah Gadsby, who created Nanette.

On Friday, Gadsby sent out a strong rebuke against Netflix. Gasby, who is a lesbian, wrote a scathing message on her Instagram: 

“Hey Ted Sarandos!… Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view…You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted.”

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email: Dimas@okayplayer.com

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