Home Life & Style Recording Academy fires embattled CEO Deborah Dugan

Recording Academy fires embattled CEO Deborah Dugan

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She filed a harassment and discrimination complaint against the organization.

The Recording Academy has fired its embattled president and chief executive officer Deborah Dugan, according to a letter sent to members Monday.

The Executive Committee of the Recording Academy stated that the decision to terminate Dugan, who has been on paid administrative leave since January 16, came following “two exhaustive, costly independent investigations relating to Ms. Dugan and the allegations made against her and by her.”

After she was placed on leave, Dugan filed a sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging, among other things, that the Grammys’ voting process is “illustrative of the boys’ club mentality that exists at the Academy and amongst its Board members.”

The letter sent by the board on Monday stated that ultimately, Dugan was fired due to “consistent management deficiencies and failures, and other factors.”

“Though she made some valuable contributions, Ms. Dugan failed to perform her job duties as promised and expected,” the letter stated. “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.”

“It was not one thing that led to this action, but rather the large number of incidents that demonstrated poor judgment, both before and after Ms. Dugan went on administrative leave,” added Christine Albert, chair emeritus of the National Board of Trustees, in a statement. “There was just no way she could continue to serve this organization.”

Dugan, who last year became the first female president and CEO in the history of the Recording Academy, was placed on leave just 10 days before the Grammys “in light of 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,” according to a statement from the Academy at the time. However, she claimed in her filing that she was being punished for refusing to accept a settlement over sexual harassment claims she’d made late last year.

Dugan also rejected the notion that she is guilty of misconduct, and stated that at the start of her tenure, the board was prepared to pay $750,000 to former CEO Neil Portnow for consulting work, even though, she claimed, he’d been accused of raping a foreign recording artist. Portnow denied the allegations, calling them “ludicrous and untrue.”

“The Grammys really is on life support right now,” Dugan’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, shared during a visit to “Good Morning America” on Jan. 23. “The statements they’re giving about Ms. Dugan creating a toxic work environment, getting the executive board members to make statements — they are in panic mode right now.”

Wigdor and his associate, Michael J. Willemin, fired back at the Academy in a statement Monday afternoon, calling their decision “despicable.”

“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,” they told ABC News Monday. “In due course, the Academy, its leadership and its attorneys will be held accountable under the law.”

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