B. Pagels-Minor, the trans employee who was fired by Netflix for leaking confidential financial data, is accusing the streaming giant for retaliating against them for speaking out regarding Dave Chappelle’s comedy special “The Closer.”
A labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board was filed on Wednesday on behalf of Pagels-Minor and trans software engineer Terra Field, who was temporarily suspended for crashing an executive meeting before being reinstated. Pagels-Minor has denied leaking the info, which ended up in an Oct. 13 Bloomberg article.
“We recognize the hurt and pain caused to our trans colleagues over the last few weeks. But we want to make clear that Netflix has not taken any action against employees for either speaking up or walking out,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
The complaint, which TheWrap has obtained, states that Netflix “engaged in the above activity to quell employees from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner.”
“This charge is not just about B. and Terra, and it’s not about Dave. It’s about trying to change the culture and having an impact for others,” attorney Laurie Burgess, who is representing the two, told The Verge. “The charge is all about collective action. It’s about supporting your coworkers and speaking up for things you care about.”
Pagels-Minor was fired earlier this month amid the continuing backlash over Chappelle’s latest special, “The Closer.” Netflix said they were let go ” for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” though Netflix acknowledged they “may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix.”
The leaked data first appeared in an Oct. 13 Bloomberg article that detailed the cost of Chappelle’s comedy specials relative to other projects on the streaming service. “Sticks and Stones,” released in 2019, cost Netflix $23.6 million, while “The Closer” cost $24.1 million. According to Bloomberg, the documents show that “Sticks & Stones” had an “impact value” of $19.4 million, meaning it cost more than the value it generated.
Backlash over “The Closer” is due to a lengthy segment discussing trans people that includes transphobic jokes and commentary. It drew intense criticism from activists and from within Netflix itself, and inspired Wednesday’s protest walkout by trans employees and allies. Read more about that here and here.
Trans employees and their allies organized a company-wide walkout on Oct. 20, which was supported by a rally outside of a Netflix office in Los Angeles.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.