Dr Phil under fire – here’s why TV’s feel-good guru is being accused of toxic workplace conditions

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Phil McGraw, host of the popular Dr Phil show, is under fire following claims of racism and intimidation in the workplace. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Phil McGraw, host of the popular Dr Phil show, is under fire following claims of racism and intimidation in the workplace. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

He’s known for serving straight talk to help bring people back from the brink of brokenness. 

So fans were surprised when trouble broke in Dr Phil’s own camp. 

A dozen current and former staffers of the popular Dr Phil TV show have lifted the lid on how toxic and traumatising it is to work on the TV programme.

The employees claim things got so bad their own mental health was negatively impacted.

“This show destroyed me mentally, physically and emotionally,” a former employee says.

“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 adds. 

The workers say they were threatened with job losses when they raised concerns after guests who were brought onto the show were “manipulated and treated unethically” with no regard for their vulnerable mental state. 

“We were specifically instructed, ‘Make sure that she doesn’t take her medication before she goes on stage,’ because they wanted her to look unstable and quote-unquote, ‘crazy’,” one employee recalls.

Senior management didn’t just take advantage of guests with mental health problems, they also encouraged workers not to book people of colour as guests on the show.

The allegations of verbal abuse, racism and intimidation in the work place comes less than two years after similar claims were made by employees on the highly popular Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

Though Ellen was accused of creating a culture of toxic fear in the workplace, Dr Phil’s employees say he’s not at fault.

Instead they lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of other senior staff members including the show’s executive producer, Carla Pennington.

Workers allege they were “screamed at and berated
Workers allege they were “screamed at and berated by” the show’s executive producer, Carla Pennington. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The employees, who’ve asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, claim Carla regularly screamed at and berated lower level workers.

“I would have nightmares,” one employee says.

“I’d literally be working in my sleep and have nightmares about something being wrong or not turning in something the right way.

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

Hosted by clinical psychologist Dr Phil McGraw (71), the show premiered in 2002 and now averages around 2,5 million viewers.

The talk show host’s personal attorney, Patrick Morris, has rubbished the allegations.

“Dr Phil in no way fosters racism, inappropriate interactions with guests, bullying and harassment or any other unprofessional behaviour,” he said in a statement.


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