The Closer has come under fire for jokes about transgender people, but Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the special in a staff memo.

In the wake of controversy sparked by the release of Dave Chappelle's latest Netflix stand-up special, The Closer, the streaming service said Monday that the recent suspensions of three employees were not due to public criticisms of the special.

A spokesperson for the company told EW that the employees were suspended for attending a recent leadership meeting without proper clearance.

"It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show," the company said in a statement. "Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so."

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle in 'The Closer'
| Credit: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

A source familiar with the situation told EW that Netflix is investigating the employees' unauthorized meeting attendance, and also confirmed that one of the three people suspended was Terra Field, a senior software engineer who identifies as trans and queer. After the release of The Closer on Oct. 5, Field was one of many voices who criticized Chappelle's remarks about transgender people.

Among other things, Chappelle says in the special that he's "team TERF," referring to trans-exclusionary radical feminists; says gender "is a fact"; and makes remarks about trans women's genitalia. He also rails against "cancel culture."

"I work at @netflix," Field wrote in a Twitter thread last week. "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. You're going to hear a lot of talk about 'offense'. We are not offended." In a subsequent tweet, she added, "What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women."

Field could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to a Variety report, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent a staff memo Friday in which he defended the release of The Closer.

"Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate," the memo said, per Variety. "We don't allow titles [at] 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 mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it's an important part of our content offering."

He added that "particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace."

Netflix declined to comment on the memo.

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