Netflix reinstates suspended employees amid Dave Chappelle row

The trans software engineer who publicly criticised Netflix for launching the special is among the reinstated employees

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 13 October 2021 11:58
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Critics call to cancel Dave Chappelle, Netflix for 'ridiculing trans people'
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Netflix has reinstated three employees – including transgender software engineer Terra Field – after issuing suspensions amid backlash over Dave Chappelle’s “transphobic” special The Closer.

Field was suspended shortly after she publicly criticised the streaming giant for launching a special that “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of trans-ness” on 7 October. She also shared the names of 38 trans persons who were brutally murdered in the US this year.

However, Netflix said it was “absolutely untrue” that Field had been suspended over her viral tweet. The company maintained that the employees faced disciplinary action for trying to attend a restricted director-level meeting.

After her suspension was lifted, Field tweeted: “Netflix has reinstated me after finding that there was no ill-intent in my attending the QBR (quarterly business review) meeting.”

She also shared a screenshot of the official correspondence she received from Netflix officials regarding the matter.

It read: “Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR (quarterly business review) meeting with any ill-intent, and that you genuinely did not think there was anything wrong with seeking access to the meeting.”

Field said she would be taking some time off to “decompress” and “figure out where I’m at” before planning her next steps. “At the very least, I feel vindicated,” she wrote.

Variety confirmed the email’s authenticity, citing a company spokesperson.

The Verge reported that the trans employee resource group at Netflix will stage a company-wide walkout on 20 October to protest the statements made by Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos regarding the incident.

In an internal email regarding the walkout, a leader of the group wrote that the streamers have “continually failed to show deep care” in its mission to entertain audiences by “repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community” and “failing to create content” that sensitively represents and uplifts the community.

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In the wake of the suspensions, Sarandos had defended Chappelle’s right to “artistic freedom” in a staff memo dated 8 October.

Sarandos wrote: “Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special Sticks & Stones, also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date.”

He argued that “artistic freedom” in stand-up comedy has a “very different standard of speech” than what is allowed internally within the organisation. Sarandos added that Netflix would not be removing The Closer from the streaming service.

Chappelle faced heavy criticism last week after his latest special was released in which he mocked trans people and said he was “team Terf” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) like British author JK Rowling.

“They cancelled JK Rowling. My god,” Chappelle said during his set. “Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as s***, they started calling her a Terf… I’m Team Terf. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”

The Closer released on Netflix on 5 October.

The Independent has reached out to Netflix and Field for comment.

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