Netflix has terminated a Black, trans, pregnant employee responsible for organizing the planned October walkout in protest of how the streaming service management is handling the fallout from Dave Chappelle’s controversial The Closer comedy special, according to The Verge.
The unidentified employee is a leader of the trans employee resource group and has asked to remain anonymous to avoid online harassment during their pregnancy. They were reportedly terminated due to suspicion that they were the party that leaked company confidential metrics about the streaming numbers and payout for the Chappelle standup special to the press. These metrics were published in a recent Bloomberg report on the special. This employee circulated the figures internally but was noted to have decried the leaks to the public among colleagues out of worry that it could hurt their planned protest efforts.
“All these white people are going around talking to the press and speaking publicly on Twitter and the only person who gets fired is the Black person who was quiet the entire time,” a former employee told The Verge in an interview. “That’s absurd, and just further shows that Black trans people are the ones being targeted in this conversation.”
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has recently doubled down on the company support of Dave Chappelle and his comedy special, despite the many feathers it has ruffled among members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly trans people. This came after rumors that several trans employees who were publicly outspoken about their offense of the standup’s subject matter and derogatory jokes were put on suspension after posting to Twitter. In a leaked company memo, Sarandos asserted that these accusations were false, and those employees were actually placed on leave for attempting to attend a restricted meeting among the streaming service’s senior staff. Those employees were later permitted to return to work.
A spokesperson for Netflix confirms, however, that this particular employee was relieved of duty after their alleged actions.
“We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” they reportedly said. “We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.”
Netflix is notoriously private with return-on-investment and official show performance number information and places a high value on keeping internal company data internal only. With the recent leak, Bloomberg was able to report that Netflix spent $24.1 million on the hour-long The Closer. For comparison, the company spent $21.4 million on the 9-episode smash hit Squid Game, the most popular title the streaming service has ever released.
To top it off, by the company’s measurement of title success, balancing a show’s reach with its cost, Chappelle’s special only scored 0.8, which is less than the company’s baseline break-even score of 1.
As one leader of Netflix’s trans employee resource group recently wrote in a public company Slack channel ahead of the planned walkout, “Our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held.”
These recent suspensions and firings have occurred despite the company’s noted encouragement for employees to disagree openly with the company’s content choices and decision-making.
“I encourage us to state clearly that we as Netflix employees are stunning not simply when we are doing the work that our roles demand of us,” the message continued, “but also when we challenge the very principles of our company.”