One of the Netflix employees at the centre of the worker-led movement to get the company to answer for a string of perceived homophobic comments made by comedian Dave Chappelle has officially resigned from the company.
In a Monday tweet, Terra Field, who is trans and queer-identifying, wrote in regards to her Nov. 21 resignation that although she was “not happy that this is how things turned out…I do think this outcome is the best for all parties involved.” That tweet linked to an an open letter posted to Medium in which Field explained that her decision to leave the company had been fuelled in part by the termination of B. Pagels-Minor — another leader of Netflix’s transgender employee resource group who had been pregnant at the time they were laid off.
While Netflix had claimed in a statement at the time that the termination had been in response to the “sharing [of] confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” Pagels-Minor had vehemently denied those accusations in an interview with Vulture. In her resignation letter, Field signalled her support for her fellow organiser, citing the termination as a key factor in her decision to leave.
“Shortly after B. was fired for something I did not and do not believe they did, I made a decision: sink or swim, I was going to walk side by side with B. as they had for so many of us while they led the Trans* ERG,” Field wrote in her blog post.
The employee backlash at Netflix was initially sparked by several comments heard in Chappelle’s latest special for the platform, The Closer, in which he self-identifies as a TERF (or “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”) and repeatedly dismisses the concept of a gender identity. What had initially taken the shape of a couple employees making disparate statements about the special’s content had then snowballed into full-on mutiny as Netflix made a string of critical gaffes in its response to the discontent.
The platform first ignited outrage amongst the LGBTQ+ community when it suspended three of its own employees — Field among them — for crashing an executive-level meeting addressing concerns about the special, and had then stoked the backlash by firing Pagels-Minor (all three of the suspended employees were eventually reinstated to their positions). Then, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos made the bizarre decision to double down on his defence of the anti-trans sentiments heard in Chappelle’s special, insisting in a memo that “…content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Although Sarandos eventually walked back that statement, apologizing to employees for a “screwed up” response that should have done more to acknowledge “a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made,” workers still engaged in a work stoppage on Oct. 20 in order to focus on providing support and resources for the trans community and affiliated charities.
While Netflix’s leadership has been pretty quiet since the PR disaster fomented by the Chappelle backlash, it’s clear that the ripple effects — and the hurt — that resulted from the company’s initial response are still being felt.