Talk show host Dr. Phil is under fire after some of his current and former staffers accused him of harboring a “traumatizing” and “toxic” workplace.
Dr. Phil has become a household name in American entertainment. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology (although he ceased renewing his license to practice psychology in 2006), has authored dozens of books, and has been the familiar face as the host of the popular talk show Dr. Phil since 2002.
Dr. Phil is known for his no holds barred, tough love type of attitude, giving stern advice to his talk show guests, often coming across as brash.
Although Dr. Phil is beloved by TV audiences and well-revered by his peers, some of his current and former employees recently uncovered a different side of the 71-year-old, claiming “toxic” and “abusive” behavior on the set of Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil’s current and former employees come forward, claim ‘traumatizing, abusive’ work environment
Some of Dr. Phil’s current and former employees have anonymously come forward, claiming their mental health has been ruined after working under Dr. Phil.
“Everyone was just pretty miserable. You would walk into the building and there was just a palpable dread and anxiety,” one staffer shared with BuzzFeed News. “Dr. Phil — the show about mental health where everybody who works on it has terrible mental health because our work conditions were really bad.”
Another employee said they suffered from nightmares and had to turn to therapy because of the trauma they endured.
“I would have nightmares. I would literally be working in my sleep and have nightmares about something being wrong or not turning in something the right way,” the former employee stated. “Even when I quit, I had to go to therapy for it, which is crazy because you’re working for a therapist.”
According to another employee, Dr. Phil’s executive producer, Carla Pennington, was a nightmare to work with, alleging she screamed at and berated staffers, calling them “idiots,” “stupid,” and “retards.”
Former employees allege racism, asked to ‘dissuade’ guest with mental illness from taking medication
In addition to claims of being berated and screamed at by staff, seven other employees claimed that racist stereotypes were perpetuated, some claimed they witnessed racism firsthand, and others alleged that guests with mental illnesses were taken advantage of. One former staffer even reported that they were asked to make sure a guest didn’t take their prescribed medication before their appearance on the show.
Dr. Phil’s attorney H. Patrick Morris denied all of the allegations, telling the BuzzFeed News of the racism claims, “Dr. McGraw categorically denies racist conduct, and CBS does not tolerate racist conduct.”
“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,” the witness said. “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,” they continued. “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.”
One of the spokespersons from Dr. Phil’s show also spoke to the outlet and claimed, “From the beginning, show executives have strived to create a collaborative, safe, and open environment for Dr. Phil McGraw and all staff and guests.”
The spokesperson continued, “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.”
Added one of the former employees of working on set for Dr. Phil’s show, “It was traumatizing. It was the worst hour of your life.”