Netflix said it “respect[s] the decision” of its employees who are expected to hold a company-wide walkout today (Oct. 20) in protest over Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special. The streaming giant released an official statement on Wednesday acknowledging the “deep hurt” it’s caused transgender staff members.
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a Netflix spokesperson told ITK. “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.”
On Twitter, walkout organizer Ashlee Marie Preston said Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos would be “presented with firm asks/demands from Netflix employees.” Due to the “overwhelming response,” Preston added, the location of the walkout was moved to a Netflix office in Los Angeles.
The company’s response to the walkout arrives after Sarandos doubled-down on his support for Chappelle and his controversy-spurring special, The Closer. In an email sent to employees, the Netflix co-CEO defended the company’s decision not to remove the special from the platform.
“We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix,” he wrote. “With The Closer, we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence, etc.).”
Sarandos added, “Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos later admitted that he “screwed up” in communicating with his staff and “should have led with a lot more humanity,” but still stood behind Netflix’s decision to stream the special. So far, Chappelle hasn’t commented on the walkout.