Former The Ellen Degeneres Show producer Hedda Muskat has alleged she was “emotionally abused” while working on the daytime show.
Claims about the “toxic” workplace environment first emerged in a Buzzfeed news article in June, when one current and 10 former employees spoke about their negative experiences on the show – under the condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday, Muskat became the first of the show’s former producers to put her name to her allegations, recalling her time on the program in an interview on Australia’s Sunrise morning show.
“I was more emotionally abused, fired for no reason… they told me that they were just going to take the show in a different direction. They ended up gave my job to a guy I trained who was about 24 years old and had no experience,” she claimed.
She claimed that Ellen was rude to her from the beginning, and she soon learned the hard way that she wasn’t welcome to talk to the host.
“When you walk into her office for example, to pitch her your segments, there was always a snarl. I always felt that I was never welcomed in her office, she always hurried me, ‘like get to the point, get to the point’,” she said.
After a few months, Muskat was allegedly told not to go into Ellen’s office anymore.
She also claimed she was shown “so much disrespect” when she took her daughter into work one day and wanted to introduce her to the 62-year-old presenter.
“She just snarled again, walked by and I was flabbergasted, she didn’t even make eye contact,” she said. “I was told later to no longer bring my daughter to work… I was told… ‘she doesn’t want kids in the office’.”
Now, Muskat is hoping that her decision to come forward with her story will encourage others to publicly do the same.
“I’m coming forward because… she trivialized and minimalized everybody’s accusations…. nobody wanted to listen to us until now,” she concluded.
Ellen has yet to comment on the allegations about her show workplace environment herself, but has had celebrity friends including Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher come forward in her defence.
“I haven’t spoken with @TheEllenShow and can only speak from my own experience. She & her team have only treated me & my team w/ respect & kindness,” Kutcher wrote on Twitter. “She never pandered to celebrity which I always saw as a refreshing honesty. When things aren’t right she handles it and fixes.”
When some of his fans said that Ellen may have only been treating him well because he’s a celebrity, Ashton replied: “But it extends to my team and people she didn’t even know I work with.”
Another person who has defended Ellen is her brother Vance, who tweeted on Tuesday: “If you think Ellen would knowingly allow bullying or racism on her show, you don’t know my sister. She has been and continues to be a bright light in a dark world. She’s one of the kindest, most generous people you’ll ever meet. And one of the funniest.”
He added in a further post on his Facebook page: “Ok, I need to say something. My sister is being viciously attacked. And let me assure you – it is all bulls—…
“I’m sick and tired of my sister being attacked. She always has – and always will – stand against bullying of any kind,” Vance continued. “She’s a smart, strong woman who has made a positive difference in the world.”
The ongoing scandal has had a huge impact on ratings for the program, which are down 29% from the same period last year, according to The Wrap.
People are coming forward almost daily to make claims about their time on the show.
The latest is actor Tony Okungbowa, who was the resident DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show from 2003 to 2006 and then from 2008 to 2013, after some guest appearances in 2007.
“Hey Guys, I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times. I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there…” he wrote on Instagram. “While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”