Deborah Dugan has been officially terminated from the Recording Academy after being placed on paid administrative leave following accusations from the music organization.
The controversy surrounding former Recording Academy President/Chief Executive Officer Deborah Dugan began in January, a mere 10 days before the Academy’s annual Grammy awards, after allegations of her bullying in the workplace came to light. While on administrative leave, Dugan filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), calling the Academy a “boys club” with “corrupt” voting practices for the Grammy awards. Since then, Dugan has been investigated for allegations of creating a hostile work environment and the Academy has been investigated for Dugan’s complaint of discrimination. Additionally, Dugan’s 44-page legal complaint to the EEOC accused the Academy’s general counsel Joel Katz of sexual harassment and brought up a previous allegation of rape against the organization’s former president Neil Portnow. Both men denied the allegations.
On Monday, the Academy announced that Dugan had been terminated effective immediately. This came after the two parties had entered into negotiations on February 20th to decide how to best end Dugan’s tenure at the organization after she expressed that she no longer wished to work for the non-profit. According to sources close to the negotiations, Dugan requested a $22 million buyout for the remainder of her contract, to which the Academy retorted with a reported multi-million dollar settlement which Dugan ultimately refused.
“Although we did participate in some settlement discussions at Ms. Dugan’s request after she stated that it was her desire to leave the academy and be bought out of her employment contract, we were ultimately compelled to dismiss Ms. Dugan as our President/CEO,” the Recording Academy executive committee said in a letter. “Not removing Ms. Dugan from the organization at this time would have caused us to compromise our values. We could not reward her with a lucrative settlement and thereby set a precedent that behavior like hers has no consequence. Our members and employees, and the entire music industry, deserve better than that.”
While the Academy searches for a new president, board chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim CEO.
In a statement, Dugan’s attorneys said: “The Academy’s decision to terminate Ms. Dugan and immediately leak that information to the press further demonstrates that it will stop at nothing to protect and maintain a culture of misogyny, discrimination, sexual harassment, corruption and conflicts of interest. The decision is despicable and, in due course, the Academy, it’s leadership and its attorneys will be held accountable under the law.”