Grammys Chief Deborah Dugan Sues Recording Academy, Claiming Sexual Harassment

Grammys Chief Deborah Dugan Sues Recording Academy, Claiming Sexual Harassment

Former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan claims she was sexually harassed by the general counsel to the Academy and put on administrative leave for raising numerous concerns about goings-on at the Grammys in a new filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The 46-page complaint arrives just days before the 62nd Grammy Awards.

Dugan claims her firing was based on a December 22nd, 2019 e-mail she sent to HR that included sexual harassment complaints against Joel Katz — the Academy’s general counsel and a former member and chair of the Academy’s Board of Trustees — whom she accused of making suggestive remarks and trying to kiss her. It also detailed “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards, all made possible by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.” When reached by phone, Katz’s representative declined to make him available. A request for comment emailed to Katz was returned with an out of office message that read, “I am currently out of the office with a respiratory infection. I will not be checking email or taking calls until I’m feeling better. Thank you for understanding.”

Additionally, the e-mail contained an accusation against former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow: Dugan said that she was encouraged to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, but was not told that, at the time, there was an outstanding sexual harassment claim against her predecessor. The complaint even alleges that it was not Portnow’s infamous women need to “step up” comments that got him fired from the Grammys, but that he “allegedly raped a female recording artist, which was, upon information and belief, the real reason his contract was not renewed.” Initial attempts to reach Portnow for comment were not successful.

In a statement, Dugan’s lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and Michael J. Willemin, said: “The complaint that we filed today against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys) highlights tactics reminiscent of those deployed by individuals defending Harvey Weinstein. As we allege, the attempt by the Recording Academy to impugn the character of Deborah Dugan is a transparent effort to shift the focus away from its own unlawful activity. This blatant form of retaliation in corporate America is all too common, even post #MeToo, and we will utilize all lawful means necessary to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

In a statement, the Recording Academy said, “It is curious that Ms. Dugan never raised these grave allegations until a week after legal claims were made against her personally by a female employee who alleged Ms. Dugan had created a ‘toxic and intolerable’ work environment and engaged in ‘abusive and bullying conduct’. When Ms. Dugan did raise her ‘concerns’ to HR, she specifically instructed HR ‘not to take any action’ in response.

“Nonetheless, we immediately launched independent investigations to review both Ms. Dugan’s potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations. Both of these investigations remain ongoing. Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave only after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization. Our loyalty will always be to the 21,000 members of the recording industry. We regret that Music’s Biggest Night is being stolen from them by Ms. Dugan’s actions and we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”

Immediately following the Academy’s statement: Wigdor and Willemin released a second statement refuting the Academy’s assertions. “As the charge filed today clearly alleges, the assertion that Ms. Dugan did not raise concerns prior to the accusations manufactured against her is completely false,” the attorneys said in a statement. ” Ms. Dugan repeatedly raised concerns throughout her entire tenure at the Academy, and even gave large presentations focused on diversity and inclusion at Board meetings. In addition, it is not just Ms. Dugan who has raised concerns. As alleged in the charge, artists, other board members and employees have all raised virtually all of the concerns raised by Ms. Dugan.  As alleged, the Academy has lost its way and abandoned the recording industry, instead focusing on self-dealing and turning blind eye to the ‘boys’ club’ environment, obvious improprieties and conflicts of interest.

“It was never Ms. Dugan’s intention to turn this into a public fight precisely because of her love for music and the members of the recording industry,” they added. “Unfortunately, staying silent was made impossible by the Board’s repeated leaks and disclosures of false and misleading information to the press. Finally, as alleged in the charge, on the morning of the day she was put on leave, the Academy offered Ms. Dugan millions of dollars to drop all of this and leave the Academy. The Board Chair demanded an answer within the hour. When Ms. Dugan refused to accept and walk away, she was put on leave. The Academy claimed that Ms. Dugan was put on leave based on accusations made against her over a month prior that the Board knows very well are meritless. That is not a credible story.”

This story is developing…

Deborah Dugan’s EEOC Complaint Against the Recording Academy

Source : Ethan Millman Link

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