Entertainment

Deborah Dugan levies new allegations after Recording Academy firing

Posted March 3, 2020 4:38 p.m. EST

— A day after she was fired from her job as head of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan has made new allegations about the Grammy nominations process.

Tuesday's allegations are a part of a supplemental Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint provided to CNN on in which Dugan further claims discrimination by the Recording Academy.

In it, Dugan alleges that longtime Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich was involved in an attempt to unduly influence the nominations process.

"Finally, on October 24, 2019, Mr. Ehrlich, the Producer of the Grammys, sent an email to Ms. Dugan and Mr. Mason [Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy's chair and interim chief executive officer] and outrageously attempted to use his position to influence nomination votes," according to the complaint. "Specifically, Mr. Ehrlich attempted to press the Academy into nominating a song by a particular superstar in order to increase his ability to convince the superstar to perform at the Grammys."

The complaint continues: "The email reads, in part: looking at the AMA nominations this morning, it's more about who's NOT there than who is.....and [superstar] is definitely not gonna be happy. minor representation at best......sooo. I think there's a case to be made to [superstar] that a performance of [song] from [album] on our show, should it be nominated."

CNN has reached out to Ehrlich, the Recording Academy and Mason for comment.

Dugan's filing details the nomination process, which, according to Dugan, includes a "nomination review" done by committees that can include potential nominees.

"A female Jazz artist who sat on one of the review committees wrote to Ms. Dugan, 'I am a Grammy Award winning artist . . . there is one thing in the process that has conflicted me for a while and I want to share it with you. In the Best Jazz Vocal category I know for a fact that artists who have recordings up for awards in a given year, are still a part of the selecting committee for that year. I understand these folks must excuse themselves and leave the room when their recordings are up for voting, but minutes later they are back in the room with the same folks,'" the complaint states.

Dugan's attorneys, Douglas H. Wigdor and Michael J. Willemin, provided a statement to CNN regarding the supplemental complaint.

"Ms. Dugan filed a supplemental EEOC complaint that details the vicious and unrelenting retaliation to which she has been subjected since she filed her initial EEOC complaint, in which she exposed misogyny, sexual harassment, discrimination and corruption, including voting irregularities, at the Academy," the statement read. "Rather than remedy this conduct, the Academy decided to sue Ms. Dugan and terminate her employment. In all of our collective years of practice, this is the most blatant act of retaliation we have ever encountered, and it represents the antithesis of all of the progress society has made on issues of discrimination and harassment in the past number of years."

Dugan filed her original complaint against the Recording Academy in January, alleging retaliation after raising allegations of sexual harassment and irregularities with Grammy nominations.

The complaint came just days before the group's Grammy Awards and days after Dugan was put on administrative leave for what the Academy called "misconduct."

Dugan says she was put on administrative leave three weeks after she sent an email to the Academy's managing director of human resources in which she outlined numerous bombshell allegations against the organization and its "historically male dominated leadership," according to the EEOC complaint.

The complaint also claimed Dugan was subjected to sexual harassment.

The Recording Academy announced Monday that it has fired Dugan and sent a letter to its members Monday informing them of the action which was taken by its Board of Trustees.

CNN was also provided a copy of the letter.

"As you know, Deborah Dugan has been on a paid administrative leave of absence since January 16, 2020," the letter began. "We are writing to let you know that, earlier today, the Board of Trustees voted to terminate Ms. Dugan's employment as President/CEO of the Recording Academy."

Dugan fired back after her termination.

"I was recruited and hired by the Recording Academy to make positive change; unfortunately, I was not able to do that as its CEO," Dugan said in a statement Monday. "So, instead of trying to reform the corrupt institution from within, I will continue to work to hold accountable those who continue to self-deal, taint the Grammy voting process and discriminate against women and people of color. Artists deserve better. To me, this is the real meaning of 'stepping up.'"

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