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Netflix Employees Who Walked Out To Protest Dave Chappelle's Special Demand A More Inclusive Workplace

An image of a group of several protesters outside the Netflix office building. They were rallying against the new Dave Chappelle special and one protester held a sign that read, "Transphobia is not a joke."
A group of several protesters outside the Netflix office building rally against the new Dave Chappelle special.
(Phoenix Tso
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More than 100 people rallied outside the offices of Netflix on Wednesday to protest the company's release of comedian Dave Chappelle's standup special, "The Closer."

Critics of the special, released earlier this month, say Chappelle's comments about transgender people crossed a line.

Wednesday's planned protest was kicked off with a walkout by Netflix employees who made several demands of the company, including:

  • More investment in content for — and about — people who identify as transgender or nonbinary.
  • More recruitment of trans men and women to leadership roles at Netflix.

Activist and producer Ashlee Marie Preston organized the rally to show solidarity with the employees.
"We're in the age of the conscious consumer and so it's no longer acceptable to provide a good product," Preston said, "but your values have to be in alignment with the product that you're producing and putting out to the public."

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Employees planned the walkout after CEO Ted Sarandos defended Chapelle. In an interview Tuesday, on the eve of the planned walkout, Sarandos told Variety that he'd handled the fallout badly.

"Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication," he said. "... I screwed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that."

The company also fired a transgender employee for allegedly leaking confidential information to the press, and briefly suspended others, which Netlfix said was connected to a crashed meeting.

In response to the walkout, Netflix put out a statement Wednesday morning:

"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."
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Corrected October 21, 2021 at 12:04 PM PDT
This story was updated to clarify what Netflix said was the reason for briefly suspending some employees.