Netflix Promises to ‘Respect the Decision’ of Employees Walking Out Today to Protest Dave Chappelle Special

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Netflix says it will “respect the decision” of employees who choose to walk out today in protest of Dave Chappelle’s special “The Closer” and co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ response to the backlash.

“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a Netflix spokesperson said on Wednesday in a statement shared with TheWrap. “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”

The Netflix spokesperson told TheWrap that the employee-organized walkout is scheduled for noon PT.

Netflix and Chappelle came under fire from prominent social justice organizations earlier this month for the comedian’s jokes targeting trans and other LGBTQ+ people in his new special. “Gender is a fact,” he says at one point in the half-hour set. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.” Chappelle then joked about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”

Sarandos said on Oct. 11 in a memo to employees that he would not take down Chappelle’s special, writing, “We don’t allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.” He went on to say that artistic freedom” is different for stand-up comedy than it is for other forms of expression.

(After doubling down on his stance in a followup note to staff, Sarandos admitted on Tuesday he didn’t handle the initial communication about his decision with the “humanity” the situation called for.)

Following the leak of Sarandos’ initial email to employees, GLAAD released a statement to media, saying in part, “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”

Later the same day, three employees — including one trans person — who crashed a quarterly directors’ meeting to speak out against Chappelle’s stand-up special were suspended. However, a Netflix spokesperson told TheWrap that “it is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”

The employees were reinstated following a brief internal investigation into their intent and means of access.

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