Kelly Clarkson Show Employees Are ‘Traumatized’ by Toxic Workplace

Photo: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Employees of The Kelly Clarkson Show are broken up, deep inside, but NBC doesn’t seem to care about the tears they cry behind the scenes of the network’s breakout-hit daytime talk show. In a Rolling Stone report, numerous current and former staffers on the series came forward to describe a toxic, emotionally abusive workplace culture that the network has failed to adequately address. These employees believe that patterns of inappropriate workplace behavior begin with executive producer Alex Duda, who one former employee calls “a monster” who “yelled and cursed” at employees and fostered a culture of producers beneath her doing the same. One employee says that the show’s production manager would often be “cursing, raising his voice, and throwing a huge temper tantrum,” including one incident in which he threw a stapler across the office.

Ahead of her move to New York, Kelly Clarkson responded to the Rolling Stone report via Instagram on Friday. “In my 20 years in the entertainment industry, I’ve always led with my heart and what I believed to be right,” she wrote in a post shared to Instagram Friday. “I love my team at ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show,’ and to find out that anyone is feeling unheard and or disrespected on this show is unacceptable… As we prepare for a move to the East Coast, I am more committed than ever to ensuring that not only our team that is moving, but also our new team in NY is comprised of the best and kindest in the business.”

Two different sources who worked on the show cite instances of racial insensitivity from Duda. The EP, who is white, allegedly asked one white employee, “Why don’t Black people want to come to the show? Why don’t Black people want to see Kelly?” Another says they were “attacked” by Duda for asking how executive producers were going to have the show address the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, per Rolling Stone:

They say after they reported the incident to HR, they were subsequently bullied, yelled at, and left out of future meetings by the executive producers they complained about. The former employee eventually left the show because they felt retaliated against and forced out without any other options.

In addition to a workplace culture of intimidation and bullying, The Kelly Clarkson Show has issues adequately compensating its employees. Lower-level staffers say they have taken on jobs as “babysitters, dog-walkers, and Uber Eats drivers” to make ends meet. In a Scrooge-ish touch, staff were also not paid over the two-week Christmas hiatus. And the Writers Guild of America has launched an investigation into the show’s practice of having producers write episodes on the unionized show.

Multiple current and former employees say they have reported these issues numerous times to HR “to no avail,” and that the same producers who demonstrate poor leadership and inappropriate behavior “ended up getting promotions.” Seven former staffers on the series tell Rolling Stone they “used their exit interviews with NBCUniversal to outline their negative experiences.” In response, NBCUniversal released a statement to Us Weekly on Friday, May 12, denying that it is not taking workplace complaints seriously. “We are committed to a safe and respectful work environment and take workplace complaints very seriously and to insinuate otherwise is untrue,” a spokesperson said in a statement via email. “When issues are reported they are promptly reviewed, investigated and acted upon as appropriate. The Kelly Clarkson Show strives to build a safe, respectful and equitable workplace that nurtures a culture of inclusivity and creativity.”

The 11 current and former employees who spoke to Rolling Stone all express the belief that Clarkson herself is unaware of how bad the conditions on her show are, and how unhappy her employees are, calling the host “fantastic.” This report comes days after it was announced that The Kelly Clarkson Show will be moving from Los Angeles to New York City for its upcoming season. But in light of these revelations, maybe Duda shouldn’t start looking for a Manhattan apartment just yet.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Kelly Clarkson Show Staff Call It Toxic’ Behind the Scenes