Music - It's Just Not What It Used To Be...

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Just a few days before the 62nd Grammy Awards airs on CBS, the plot continues to thicken over the scandal surrounding The Recording Academy and it's CEO, Deborah Dugan,  Dugan was placed on Administrative leave just three weeks after she sent an email to HR about organizational concerns.

The Academy claims an assistant to Dugan filed a complaint with HR over her leadership style and that led to the Board's decision to place her on Administrative leave.

Other reports say many on the Board were not her fans...and Dugan has filed a complaint with the EEOC.  

According to this article by New York Times journalist Ben Sisario published January 21,2020:

"Deborah Dugan, the suspended chief of the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy Awards, said in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday that she had been removed as retaliation for uncovering a range of misconduct at the academy, including sexual harassment, improper voting procedures and conflicts of interest among academy board members."

"Ms. Dugan’s complaint says, the academy’s board had begun to strip her of some of her powers. Harvey Mason Jr., a record producer who is the board chairman, sent Ms. Dugan a letter on Dec. 9, informing her that she was no longer permitted to terminate staff members without board approval, and could not assign any new initiatives or choose any outside counsel for the academy’s legal work.

And according to this article at Pitchfork:

"In the complaint, Dugan alleged that she was sexually harassed by Joel Katz of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP, legal counsel for the Recording Academy and a former board of trustees member.  She also stated that she was informed that former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow is facing an allegation of rape from a female recording artist."

"Dugan’s complaint also states that the Grammy nomination and voting processes are “ripe with corruption,” and asserts that another reason she was pushed out of the Academy was because she planned to reform what she viewed to be huge payouts to “male partners of large law firms who are extremely conflicted with respect to their work for the Academy.”

The article goes on to address Legal Conflicts of Interest:

"According to the complaint, the Academy routinely pays large legal fees to attorneys who are “extremely conflicted with respect to their work for the Academy.” The complaint details $250,000 yearly retainer fees and several other payments to Katz, and an equivalent yearly retainer to Chuck Ortner, of Proskauer Rose LLP, both current members of the Grammy Museum Board of Directors. Both Katz and Ortner also represent individual board of trustees members, recording artists, and “other entities and individuals in the music industry with personal interests in decision making at the Academy,” according to the complaint, leaving them in “unique and conflicted positions to curry unwarranted favor from the board” and to unfairly influence nominations."


According to other reports, the allegations in Ms. Dugan's complaint are not new to The Academy; in November they settled a lawsuit brought by ex-employee Dana Tomarken based on similar charges of mis-use of funds and that Portnow blocked her efforts to brief the board on the matter.

Of course thanks to an NDA Tomarken was most likely forced to sign, we'll never really know if the Academy was indeed guilty of misuse of funds.  Let's hope that Dugan's legal counsel, Bryan Freedman of Wigdor, LLP,  will do their due diligence to expose the truth and demand accountability.  

If Dugan's allegations are true, the Academy has a seriously dysfunctional and toxic workplace culture that starts at the top, with it's Board and C-Suite, not to mention a potentially illegal one.  

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