The popular television talk show of Ellen DeGeneres became subject of an inquiry, following a report of the presence of toxic work culture driven by racism, bullying and intimidation.
And now, a new report claims that several show producers have engaged in sexual misconduct.
According to a Buzzfeed report, many former employees confirmed stories of improper behaviour by the show producers, with Kevin Leman, writer and executive producer being one of the names in allegations.
The report adds that a former employee accused Leman of 'soliciting oral sex' at a company party in 2013. Another ex-employee accused Leman of grabbing a production assistant's penis on another occasion.
Another employee claimed Leman groped a production assistant and kissed his neck in a car. Leman is famous among the employees for making sexual jokes in the office.
The claims of the employees suggested that Leman allegedly targeted younger and lower-level employees.
"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," said a former staffer.
However, Leman denied the claims in a statement on Thursday, which read: "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," he said. "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."
DeGeneres, meanwhile, in a memo addressing to her staff wrote that she intends to "correct issues" going forward. The letter to her crew obtained by Hollywood Reporter states, "On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show."
"As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't, that will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again," said Ellen.
"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" became the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia following numerous accounts of workplace problems.