Netflix staffers hit streamer with unfair labor complaint over Dave Chappelle controversy

An employee of Netflix, both current and former, filed a labor complaint against Netflix accusing it retaliation.
Netflix employees protested the treatment of trans people after a controversial comedy special from Dave Chappelle.

Ted Sarandos, CEO of Netflix, has stood by Chappelle and his comedy special over the past few weeks.

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An employee of Netflix and a former staffer filed a labor complaint against Netflix, accusing it of retaliating against them because they spoke out against Netflix's handling of the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle's new special.

Terra Field and B. Pagels–Minor filed an unfair labor practice charge against the National Labor Relations Board. They claimed that Netflix's decision to air the Chappelle special "demeaned and endangered" transgender individuals and had a significant impact on the working conditions of Netflix.

The Verge reported the first on the matter.

According to the pair, the streamer had targeted them because they spoke out against Chappelle's special as well as its anti-transgender comments. Pagels-Minor was a Black trans program manger and organized a walkout among employees at Netflix. He was later fired for allegedly leaked financial and confidential information to Bloomberg about the special and other streamer projects. Pagels-Minor denied the allegation.

Field, a software engineer was among three people who were suspended for attending a meeting at the director level. However, she was reinstated by the company after it found no misconduct.

"Netflix engaged [in firing and suspending Pagels–Minor and Field respectively] in order to silence employees from speaking out about working conditions, including but not limited to, trying to create a safe and affirming workplace for Netflix employees, speaking out about Netflix's products and their impact on the LGBTQ+ community and providing support to employees whom Netflix has treated unlawfully and disparately," Bay Area attorney Laurie M. Burgess stated in the statement of charges submitted for Pagels–Minor and Field.

Both had signed previous Netflix employment agreements. This requires them to settle disputes through private arbitration. The workers could file with the NLRB to seek collective action. This would allow them to achieve sweeping changes and accountability for all employees at the company.

Field tweeted that "Rights are to be exercised, and defended, but nobody will silence me, my coworkers or my community in my defense," in a response to the NLRB filing.

Netflix is currently being investigated by the NLRB. The NLRB could try to settle the charges or file a formal complaint for the employees if they are true. Netflix could be required to pay back employees and make a statement regarding worker rights in relation to protected activities like protesting or speaking out.

Netflix denied that it had retaliated against its employees.

Insider was told by a spokesperson for Netflix that they recognize the pain and hurt caused to trans colleagues in the past few weeks. "But, we want to clarify that Netflix has not taken any actions against employees who speak up or walk out."

In the last few weeks, Ted Sarandos, CEO of Netflix has stood by Chappelle and his comedy special. He had previously said that the special didn't directly relate to real-world harm, but he retracted those comments by saying that he "screwed up".

Dave Chappelle, however, responded to the controversy by saying that he is open to meeting with the trans community and listening to their concerns, but that he will not "beholden to any demands." Chappelle responded by praising Sarandos support and mocking Hannah Gadsby for supporting Chappelle.