Former staffers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show claimed in a new BuzzFeed News article that the chatfest's producers committed sexual harassment and misconduct. The disturbing accusations follow a turbulent week for DeGeneres, most recently being called out by Brad Garrett.
Ex-employees, 36 of whom were interviewed for the article, stated that head writer-executive producer Kevin Leman grabbed a production assistant's genitals, requested a hand job or oral sex at a company party, groped a PA and kiss their neck, and ask staffers questions like “Are you a top or a bottom?” These are just a few of the disturbing behaviors outlined in the article.
Leman reportedly preyed on lower-level staffers who were afraid to speak up. One ex-employee shared:
He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that.
Leman subsequently issued a statement to BuzzFeed, saying:
I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense. I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.