Former Netflix employees, who criticized Chappelle special, withdraw labor complaint
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 company 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.”
The NLRB complaint alleges Netflix retaliated against employees for ‘speaking up’ against the company’s handling of Chappelle’s comedy special ‘The Closer.’
Netflix said on Monday the parties have come to a resolution.
“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 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.
Transgender Netflix staffers are protesting the streamer’s decision to release Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special, which contains transphobic material.
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.
LGBTQ+ employees behind Netflix’s ‘Most’ Twitter account say ‘the last couple of weeks have been hard’ after the release of Dave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer.’
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.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.