Fired MusiCares VP Files a Lawsuit Against Neil Portnow and the Recording Academy

Fired MusiCares VP Files a Lawsuit Against Neil Portnow
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Changing her story, MusiCares’ former VP Dana Tomarken has taken aim at Neil Portnow and the Recording Academy.

Last year, Dana Tomarken, former Vice President at MusiCares, made serious allegations against Neil Portnow, Chairman and President of the Recording Academy.

According to Tomarken, Portnow had willfully diverted funds from the organization’s MusiCares Foundation charity.  He had allegedly steered funds to cover deficits incurred by the 2018 Grammy Awards.

The Recording Academy oversees the annual Grammy Awards.

She first detailed the issue with a 4,500-word letter sent to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees at their annual meeting in Hawaii.

Yet, digging a bit deeper into the story, Tomarken, not Portnow, may have diverted funds.  She had made a suspicious acquisition involving a MusiCares item initially up for auction.  Under MusiCares policy, staffers can purchase items that fail to get auctioned, but Tomarken apparently didn’t pay for an item she acquired.

That may have led to her firing.

Now, the spurned ex-VP has gone all in against Portnow.

Taking the Recording Academy to court.

In a new civil lawsuit against Portnow, Tomarken has now slightly changed her story.

Filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, the former MusiCares Vice President, now 75, claimed discrimination.  Portnow, who allegedly runs a “boy’s club” at the Grammys, fired Tomarken over her age and gender.

Continuing on her original allegation, she claims Portnow had blocked her efforts to brief the Board of Trustees about the diverted funds.  The 2018 Grammy Awards had taken place at Madison Square Garden (MSG), which she claims led to unexpected costs.

To cover the expenses, Portnow allegedly pressured Tomarken to hold MusiCares annual event at Radio Music City Hall, operated by MSG.  Thanks to higher-than-expected costs, the event had only raised $1 million instead of $5 million.

Addressing earlier allegations against her, Tomarken claims she paid for the auctioned item “as soon as she was reminded of it.”

She had served at MusiCares for 25 years.  Yet, like other women at the Recording Academy, Portnow and other executives allegedly denied them promotions.

The lawsuit reads,

She was treated worse as she became older.  The culture of sexism that pervaded the Academy and MusiCares was evidenced by the ‘boys’ club’ surrounding Neil Portnow.

The so-called boys’ club was a group of men who were deeply loyal to Mr. Portnow, regularly socialized with him, and served as go-tos for anything he needed.  Multiple women failed at breaking down the barriers to join this club.

Tomarken has claimed anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection violations.

The Recording Academy has since issued a statement, claiming Tomarken had never filed a complaint beforehand.  She had only raised the issue after her dismissal.  The Academy also says it never compromised the interests of MusiCares to benefit itself.

You can view the lawsuit below.


Featured image by Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (YouTube screengrab).