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.”

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.”

A representative for the Recording Academy did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

This story is developing…

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