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The Next Ellen? Dr. Phil Accused Of Running Toxic Workplace Fostering 'Fear, Intimidation, And Racism'

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Dr. Phil’s attorney is really hoping the daytime doctor won’t go the way of Ellen DeGeneres!

Patrick Morris, the personal attorney of the talk show host (real name Phil McGraw), is addressing the accusations of a toxic workplace environment against the long running show Dr. Phil.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, a dozen current and former employees of the hit series claimed that they had faced verbal abuse, fear, intimidation, and even racism behind the scenes of the production. As one employee put it:

“Everyone was just pretty miserable. You would walk into the building and there was just a palpable dread and anxiety. Dr. Phil — the show about mental health where everybody who works on it has terrible mental health because our work conditions were really bad.”

Whoa! Employees complained of verbal abuse and mistreatment of both them and the vulnerable guests, treatment they say was damaging to their mental health.

Related: Dr. Phil Sued After Teen Was Allegedly Sexually Assaulted At Treatment Center He Recommended

As another employee said:

“Even when I quit, I had to go to therapy for it, which is crazy because you’re working for a therapist.”


However, Morris dismissed the report as a one-sided “clickbait story,” saying in a statement to Variety:

“It is a clickbait story, because as everyone knows, Dr. Phil sells tickets. BuzzFeed was offered dozens of current and former staff members to talk to but when BuzzFeed started hearing the truth, which ruined their salacious narrative, they declined. Dr. Phil focuses on content for the program and doesn’t get involved in staff relations, but the staff at the program in no way uses ethnic origin such as described.”


Moreover, a rep for ViacomCBS told the outlet that all employees are encouraged to report unfair treatment, telling the outlet:

“We provide multiple avenues through which employees can report complaints to the company both on the record and anonymously. We encourage any employee who believes that they or others within the company have been treated unfairly to report it without a fear of retaliation. We take seriously all such reports.”

Unfortunately, the program isn’t just facing toxic workplace claims. Seven of the employees accused the show of manipulating guests who are already in a precarious state, including a claim from an employee who was allegedly instructed to make sure a guest on the show didn’t take her prescribed medication. Whoa.

The employee told BuzzFeed:

“We were specifically instructed, ‘Make sure that she doesn’t take her medication before she goes onstage,’ because they wanted her to look unstable and quote-unquote, ‘crazy,’ for lack of a better term. She did take the medication because no one got there in time and I remember thinking, ‘My God, I don’t want to be the one to tell them or dissuade them from that.’ And that’s all for the sake of TV. Obviously this girl should be on her medication and that’s what we’re trying to get her help for, but for the sake of TV they wanted her to look off the rails.”


If that’s not bad enough, the employees accused the show of encouraging them to perpetuate racist stereotypes onscreen.

For what it’s worth, though, none of the employees — current or former — witnessed Dr. Phil himself being toxic or abusive on set. Most of the accusers identified executive producer Carla Pennington and other senior-level staffers as being verbally abusive.

Still, Tiffany Clark, a 31-year-old who was a part of Paramount Pictures’ rotating page program and worked on Dr. Phil said:

“How can he not know?”

A spokesperson for the show echoed Morris’ “clickbait” sentiment, telling Variety:

“Buzzfeed’s ‘click-bait story’ containing verifiably and objectively false characterizations and reporting of the publicly available contradictory results of these legal cases [including dismissal with prejudice due to a lack of merit, not even being a party and other factual errors] raises significant doubts about the credibility of the other unsubstantiated, anonymous claims relating to the show and its staff, which are not true. Buzzfeed has been provided with dozens and dozens of attributed statements of fact, from current and past staff. Verifiable data contradicting the entire premise of their ‘anonymously attributed,’ sensationalized and baseless article.”

They continued:

‘Dr. Phil’ and our hard-working, diverse team of more than 200 proud staff, many of whom have been here for two decades, have sincerely and respectfully worked with thousands of appreciative guests. From the beginning, show executives have strived to create a collaborative, safe, and open environment for Dr. Phil McGraw and all staff and guests. We are grateful for the overwhelming number of proud, dedicated colleagues who have helped achieve our sustained success through 20 seasons of the program with many more to come.”

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[Image via Dr. Phil]

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Feb 10, 2022 17:19pm PDT

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