Netflix fires employee who leaked financial information about Dave Chappelle's special

The company is facing an external and internal backlash due to the controversial comedian's new special.

Updated: October 19, 2021 - 2:34pm

Netflix fired one of its employees for leaking to Bloomberg the amount the company paid comedian Dave Chappelle for his most recent stand-up special "The Closer."

The unidentified employee divulged "confidential, commercially sensitive information" with the outlet about the cost of Chappelle's most recent effort. The company spent a reported $24.1 million on the hour-long special, most of which went toward Chapelle's salary. 

The employee was an organizer of an upcoming walkout that is being staged by the company's trans employees protesting the material Chappelle performed in the hit special, which has caused significant upset in Hollywood and media circles. The walkout is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

A spokesperson for Netflix said of the firing, "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 Closer" has been criticized for being anti-trans due to a number of jokes Chappelle makes about his experiences with the LGBTQ community. Advocacy groups such as GLAAD have called the special transphobic, though the company has continued to express support for Chappelle, with whom Netflix has a longstanding relationship.

"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.)," wrote Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos in a staff email last week. "While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn't directly translate to real-world harm." 

Chappelle has continuously faced criticism for the jokes he makes about the LGBTQ community. In 2019 he faced controversy for a joke he made about Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner. In 2020, his special "Sticks and Stones" again caused an uproar for similarly themed jokes. Despite, or perhaps because of, the consistently big reactions, Chappelle has continued to include segments about the LGBTQ community in his specials.