'Ellen DeGeneres Show' workplace under investigation by Warner Media

The producer and distributor of the daytime talk show have launched an internal probe after current and former employees reportedly claimed it was a toxic workplace environment.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump and Diana Dasrath

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is the subject of an internal investigation in the wake of a recent report in which some current and former employees alleged that, behind the scenes, the hit daytime TV show is a toxic work environment.

A source close to the production confirmed to NBC News that Warner Media has launched a probe into the award winning show, an investigation first reported by Variety on Monday.

Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.

The source told NBC News that Ellen DeGeneres is not part of the investigation, adding that "it is not about her at all."

Executives from Telepictures, which produces the show, and Warner Bros. Television, which distributes it, sent a memo to staffers last week informing them that a third-party firm will be speaking to current and former employees about the workplace issues, according to the Variety report.

NBC News has not seen the memo.

The investigation comes on the heels of a July 16 story by Buzzfeed in which one current employee and 10 former staffers claimed they endured a culture of racism, fear and intimidation. They blamed senior managers on the show for allowing the behavior.

"The biggest common thread that everyone told me is that what goes on behind the scenes is a far cry from what the show represents in their 'be kind' messaging and what the show and what Ellen DeGeneres herself profits off of," Buzzfeed entertainment editor Krystie Yandoli told TODAY.

And while NBC's source said DeGeneres is not the focus of the investigation, her ex-staffers believe she should face scrutiny.

"Some former employees said that because of Ellen's name and face on the show, they want her to have more accountability and involvement about what goes on behind the scenes," Yandoli said.

The allegations in the Buzzfeed report included former employees saying they were fired for taking time off for medical leave or bereavement. In another case, a former Black employee said she was subjected to multiple racist comments during her tenure, including once at a staff party.

"She was approached by a male senior writer and he made a comment to her along the lines of, 'Oh, I don't know your name, I only know the names of the white people who work here,'" Yandoli told TODAY.

NBC News reached out to representatives for Warner Bros. Television and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." They declined to comment.

DeGeneres has not made any public comments about the probe, and the show is currently on its usual summer hiatus.

Executive producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Ed Glavin said in a statement to Buzzfeed earlier this month that they are taking the allegations "very seriously."

"It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us," they added. "We realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."