Recording Academy’s Ugly Battle Over Sexual Assault, Discrimination Charges Enters Mediation

  • Save

  • Save
Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan

The very public, very controversial war between the Recording Academy and ousted CEO Deborah Dugan is reportedly entering mediation.

Sources with knowledge of the matter are now leaking that settlement talks are underway. It’s unclear when the settlement discussions started, though sources to Variety say that the negotiations have been taking place for several days. Despite the ‘suspension,’ Dugan is not expected to return to her Recording Academy position, which she held between the start of August and mid-January 2019. Possible financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Deborah Dugan, a music industry veteran and former CEO of (RED), began clashing with Recording Academy higher-ups soon after being hired. Internally circulated (and highly critical) memos penned by Dugan were leaked to the public, and ahead of the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, Dugan came forward with her allegations, including charges pertaining to sexual harassment, a corrupt Grammy-nomination process, and corrupt legal-consultation practices. Possibly, Dugan’s most damning claim was that former Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow had committed rape.

The Academy placed Dugan on leave, citing a formal complaint concerning abuse and mistreatment (which, it was eventually revealed, was submitted by Claudine Little, an executive assistant who formerly worked for Neil Portnow). Dugan then filed a lawsuit and spoke of her assertions on multiple talk shows. Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Taylor Swift boycotted the 62nd Annual Grammys, ostensibly in protest of Dugan’s treatment and the injustices she alleged (or the simple ugliness of the entire situation).

An internal (and subsequently leaked) Recording Academy memo written by Harvey Mason Jr. shed some light upon the steps the organization is taking to refute Dugan’s claims. A third-party law firm is investigating Joel Katz, the lawyer Dugan accused of sexual harassment; significantly, the Recording Academy does not employ an in-house legal team, and Katz is simply a consultant. Also, it was indicated that the Grammy voting process, while fair, suffers from a lack of public knowledge.

Earlier, it was learned that Dugan and the Academy nearly finalized a multimillion-dollar settlement in December. But that deal obviously fell through.

One Response

  1. Ted

    Of course it is going to mediation. This is about a settlement – hush money to make the negative press go away. The problem is the Pandora’s box has already been opened. The good thing for NARAS is people are lazy so this may all just blow over without any change whatsoever.