Netflix recently suspended three employees, including a transgender employee who posted a Twitter thread last week criticizing a new Dave Chappelle stand-up special on the streaming service as being transphobic.
The employees were suspended after they attended a virtual business meeting among top executives at the company that they had not been invited to, a person familiar with the decision said on Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. Netflix said in a statement that the transgender employee, Terra Field, was not suspended because of the tweets critical of Mr. Chappelle’s show.
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly, and we support their right to do so.”
Mr. Chappelle’s comedy special, “The Closer,” debuted on Netflix on Tuesday, and was quickly criticized by several organizations, including GLAAD, for “ridiculing trans people.” Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer for the Netflix series “Dear White People,” said last week that she would not work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
Ms. Field, who is a software engineer at Netflix, tweeted last week that the special “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.”
On Monday, after news of her suspension went public following a report by The Verge, she tweeted: “I just want to say I appreciate everyone’s support. You’re all the best, especially when things are difficult.”
As criticism of Mr. Chappelle’s special began last week, Netflix’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos sent a memo to employees defending the comedian.
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” Mr. Sarandos wrote in the memo. “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be meanspirited, but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Mr. Sarandos also cited Netflix’s “longstanding deal” with Mr. Chappelle and said the comedian’s 2019 special, “Sticks & Stones,” was also “controversial” and was “our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date.”
In 2019, Netflix was criticized when it blocked an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s topical show, “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj,” in Saudi Arabia after the kingdom’s government made a request for it to do so. In the episode, Mr. Minaj criticized the Saudi Arabian government and questioned the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“We’re not in the news business,” Netflix’s co-chief executive Reed Hastings said in 2019, explaining the decision. “We’re not trying to do ‘truth to power.’ We’re trying to entertain.”