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The Ellen Show’s Former DJ, Tony Okungbowa, Backs Toxic Workplace Claims

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 8/6/2020 Natalie Morin
Ellen DeGeneres posing for the camera © Provided by Refinery29

In the midst of a flurry of allegations from former Ellen DeGeneres Show staffers regarding a workplace rife with toxicity and sexual misconduct, former show DJ Tony Okungbowa has spoken out about his own experience.

On August 5, Okungbowa, known as “DJ Tony” during his time on the show from 2003-2013, wrote on Instagram that while he is “grateful” for the opportunity to have been on the show for a decade, he did “experience and feel the toxicity of the environment.”

While brief, the statement underscored his support of his former colleagues and their claims and his hope for change within the program. “I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward,” Okungbowa wrote.

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A post shared by Tony okungbowa (@tokungbowa) on Aug 4, 2020 at 9:53am PDT

An internal investigation of the The Ellen DeGeneres Show by WarnerMedia is underway, following a mid-July BuzzFeed News report, in which dozens of current and former employees of the daytime talk show alleged that management created a “toxic work environment.” Former employees alleged that they had been penalized for taking medical and bereavement leave, faced racism, and, in a second report, also claimed experiencing “rampant sexual misconduct” from members of the executive production team.

DeGeneres has since addressed the claims, writing in a letter to her staff that she is “committed to ensuring this does not happen again…My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that,” she wrote. “Alongside Warner Bros., we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues.”

Warner Bros. told The Hollywood Reporter that they will be making several “staffing changes” going forward.

“As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done,” Degeneres continued. “Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

DeGeneres will continue to host the talk show when it returns from its haitus on September 9.

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