Amid Chappelle controversy, Netflix reportedly fires employee who helped plan walkout

The streaming company says the worker leaked internal company data to the press.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
2 min read
Close up of the Netflix logo on the exterior of a large building.

Employees have pushed back against Netflix's handling of a comedy special by Dave Chappelle that included jokes about trans people.

Getty Images

Netflix on Friday said it has fired an employee for leaking internal information to the press about Dave Chappelle's latest stand-up comedy special, The Closer. 

The employee, who hasn't been named, was a leader of a trans employee resource group and was helping organize a walkout on Oct. 20 in protest of the company's handling of the Chappelle special, according to a report by The Verge. 

Netflix said it fired the employee for leaking internal information that was used in a recent Bloomberg story that discussed viewership metrics and pay for comedians with Netflix specials. The company said the employee admitted to sharing the metrics externally. 

"We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. "We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company."

The firing comes as Netflix has faced employee backlash for jokes Chappelle made in his new special, The Closer, about trans people, both in general and about specific people he knew. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has defended the comedy special from criticism and concerns over the danger of the jokes to trans people by saying, "Content on the screen doesn't directly translate to real world harm," according to an email obtained by Variety. He went on to argue that people can watch "shocking stand-up comedy" without being incited to hurt others.

Employees and activists have pushed back by pointing out the extreme fatality rates trans people face due to violent crime, especially trans people of color.