- 22 Jan 20
An article, published Tuesday by Rolling Stone, details Deborah Dugan's current complaint against the Recording Academy for multiple counts of sexual misconduct. The report includes a complaint that ex-CEO Neil Portnow sexually assaulted a female recording artist. Portnow, according to the complaint, stepped down after he was accused of raping an unnamed artist, and Dugan was hired as his replacement, but recently ousted and put on administrative leave.
In the complaint, Dugan alleges that she, too, was sexually harassed, by legal counsel for the Recording Academy and former board of trustees member Joel Katz. This comes alongside allegations of racial discrimination and a claim that she was ousted from the Academy for planning to reform payouts to "male partners of large law firms who are extremely conflicted with respect to their work for the Academy."
Dugan also states that she was “offered significantly less compensation than her male predecessor, Portnow, was being paid” and that when she asked to be paid correspondingly to Portnow, “her request was rejected and she was told that she should be happy to be earning more than she had in her previous role.”
The complaint details the stories of several other women, including the Academy's former Chief Information Officer Megan Clarke. Clarke allegedly reported to HR that she had been sexually harassed by a male board member, and an hour after following up with her complaint was told that her employment would be terminated if she failed to tender her resignation.
The Academy has responded to the complaint, stating that Dugan only levelled the allegations after she was faced with a complaint of bullying from a female employee, saying they "regret that Music’s Biggest Night is being stolen from [members of the recording industry] by Ms. Dugan’s actions and we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible." Timing aside, the allegations in the 46-page report are extremely damning, and speak to a broader culture within the music industry at large of bullying, harassment and discrimination. Another woman attempted to warn Dugan about the organisation's alleged corruption. "I didn’t want to believe it," Dugan says in her letter to Academy HR, "but now after five months of being exposed to the behaviour and circumstances outlined here, I have come to suspect she is right."
Read the full EEOC complaint here.
Update: Portnow has responded to the rape allegations, releasing a statement saying that they are "ludicrous" and "untrue". In Variety, Portnow says: "This document is filled with inaccurate, false and outrageous and terribly hurtful claims against me." You can read his full statement in Variety.