The Recording Academy has settled out of court with its former CEO Deborah Dugan just weeks before the two parties were set to begin arbitration. This development comes nearly 18 months after Dugan was publicly jettisoned from the organization in charge of the Grammys only ten days before the 2020 ceremonies.
The specifics of the settlement were not made available to the public. Instead, both parties issued a joint statement on Thursday saying, “The Recording Academy and Deborah Dugan have agreed to resolve their differences and to keep the terms of their agreement private.”
Arbitration between the Academy and Dugan was set to begin on July 12th in Los Angeles. Originally, the proceedings were supposed to be open to the public, but in recent weeks the Recording Academy had begun a push to make the hearings private, per The New York Times. With this new out-of-court settlement, the Academy is able to keep many of its internal dealings and operations secret.
Dugan was originally brought in as Chief Executive Officer in late 2019 as criticism of the Recording Academy continued to mount regarding a culture of exclusivity for women and people of color as well as the clandestine activities of the nominating committees. After only five months, however, Dugan was publicly placed on administrative leave just ten days before the 2020 Grammys. She was later fired over “concerns raised to the Recording Academy board of trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team.”
Dugan, the former head of the Bono-founded Red non-profit, responded with a discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In it, she claimed that her dismissal was retaliation for her challenging of a “boys club” status quo within the Recording Academy. This also came several weeks after Dugan wrote a detailed letter to the Academy’s human resources department where she alleged “voting irregularities, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest.” She also accused an outside lawyer for the Academy, Joel Katz, of making unwanted sexual advances toward her shortly after she became CEO. Katz disputes Dugan’s account.
The Academy denied all of Dugan’s allegations and painted her as a disruptive force in the organization. Dugan was initially hired on as a change-maker in the face of mounting public animosities toward the Record Academy, but Christine Albert, the academy’s board emeritus at the time, told The New York Times the organization expected “change without chaos.”
[H/T The New York Times]