Entertainment

/

ArcaMax

Former Netflix employees, who criticized Chappelle special, withdraw labor complaint

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Two former Netflix employees who raised concerns about transphobic remarks in Dave Chappelle's latest special "The Closer" withdrew an accusation they lodged with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the streamer tried to stop them from speaking up about working conditions.

Both senior software engineer Terra Field and game launch operations program manager B. Pagels-Minor were leaders in the Netflix Trans* employee group that criticized the special. A group of employees pushed the streamer to hire more transgender people to leadership positions and have more trans and nonbinary representation in front of and behind the camera, among other requests.

In their complaint filed with the NLRB last month, the employees said Netflix retaliated against them in order "to quell [them] 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."

Netflix confirmed on Monday that the complaint had been withdrawn.

"We have resolved our differences in a way that acknowledges the erosion of trust on both sides and, we hope, enables everyone to move on," Netflix said in a statement.

Netflix declined to answer the Los Angeles Times' questions about whether there was a settlement involved and if any changes were made to its policies or practices since concerns were raised about the Chappelle special and the labor charge was filed.

Field said on Twitter on Monday that she resigned from Netflix.

"I'm not happy that this is how things turned out, but I do think this outcome is the best for all parties involved," Field tweeted.

Pagels-Minor also confirmed the withdrawal of the labor charge but declined to comment further. Pagels-Minor was accused by Netflix of leaking sensitive information about the special to the media, which they have denied doing.

 

The outcry over the Chappelle special gained momentum in October, when Hollywood talent, employees and allies, including Field and Pagels-Minor, spoke out. Employees walked off the job in protest on Oct. 20 and a demonstration was held in front of a Netflix office in Los Angeles.

"I want my child to grow up in a world where they see that their parent, a Black, trans person — because I exist, contrary to what the special says, contrary to what many people say — that I'm valued and I'm an important person," Pagels-Minor said at the event.

Netflix's stance on the issue has been to not take down the Chappelle special and, in a letter obtained by Variety, the streamer's co-CEO Ted Sarandos had said he did not believe the content directly translates to real world harm.

The night before the employee walkout, Sarandos admitted to Variety that he "screwed up that internal communication," acknowledging that could have handled the situation better.

"I should have led with a lot more humanity," Sarandos told Variety. "I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn't do that."

———

(Staff writers Christi Carras and Tracy Brown contributed to this report.)

———

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.