A new report by online publication Buzzfeed is accusing The Dr. Phil Show of fostering a toxic workplace environment with employees. A dozen current and former employees of the show allege they were subjected to verbal abuse, along with racism, intimidation, and fear. Seven employees also claim guests who were on the show were manipulated and treated unethically.
According to BuzzFeed, none of the people they spoke to ever witnessed Dr. Phil McGraw behaving in the toxic and abusive manner they received from others with the show. They do however, accuse senior-level staffers, including Executive Producer Carla Pennington, of this practice claiming they were screamed at and berated by them. One unnamed former employee claimed:
Everyone was just pretty miserable. You would walk into the building and there was just a palpable dread and anxiety. Dr. Phil — the show about mental health where everybody who works on it has terrible mental health because our work conditions were really bad.
The staffers also revealed how they were very concerned on how they treated guests with mental illness, with one claiming they were instructed to double check that a guest didn't take their medicine. The former employee stated:
We were specifically instructed, ‘Make sure that she doesn't take her medication before she goes onstage,’ because they wanted her to look unstable and quote-unquote, ‘crazy,’ for lack of a better term. She did take the medication because no one got there in time and I remember thinking, ‘My God, I don't want to be the one to tell them or dissuade them from that.’ And that's all for the sake of TV. Obviously this girl should be on her medication and that's what we're trying to get her help for, but for the sake of TV they wanted her to look off the rails.
Employees also claimed Pennington and other senior producers would publicly mock their guests coming on the show and would depict the way Black and Latinx guests talked. Staffers were encouraged to have guests who looked, "Upper middle class, and not like trailer trash," and were strongly advised not to have people of color on.
The show and Pennington's reps have denied the accusations.