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Netflix reinstates trans employee who complained about Dave Chappelle’s show

Dave Chappelle in The Closer
Dave Chappelle in The Closer (Photo: Netflix)

Netflix has reinstated three employees it suspended following the controversy around comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, The Closer. This includes trans and queer senior software engineer, Terra Field.

The streaming giant says it suspended the employees, pending investigation, for crashing its Quarterly Business Review (QBR): a high-level meeting of executives.

Field shared the news on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

“Netflix has reinstated me after finding that there was no ill-intent in my attending the QBR meeting. I’ve included the statement I requested below.

“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at. At the very least, I feel vindicated.”

The message from Netflix to Field said, “Our investigation did not find you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to the meeting. Additionally when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”

The other two employees suspended have not been named. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the news of the reinstatements to Variety, adding that the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”

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Many LGBTQ advocates (such as advocacy group GLAAD) have criticized Chappelle for comments he makes in his latest show regarding trans people. This included Field, who posted a Twitter thread last Wednesday in which she said, “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.”

Others have claimed that despite some of his material, Chappelle is sympathetic to the hardships facing many trans people. In The Closer, he talks of his friendship with a trans woman, the comedian Daphne Dorman, who killed herself in 2019.

Netflix denied Field’s suspensions anything to do with her tweet, saying in a statement on Monday, “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”

Related: Netflix CEO stands behind Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comedy special, says some people “enjoy it”

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos also said Monday that the streamer was standing by the show. In a memo to staff, leaked to media, he said, “We don’t allow Netflix titles 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 mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

The Verge reports that Netflix’s trans employee resource group is planning a company-wide walkout on October 20 in response to Sarandos’ remarks.