Nearly two years ago, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen set up a ‘diversity taskforce’ within the Recording Academy after claims of lack of diversity at the 2018 awards, where former CEO Neil Portnow told women they need to “step up” if they wanted to win awards. 2019 appeared to be a step in the right direction with Alecia Keys as host, Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus collaborating as well as Janelle Monáe and Travis Scott also taking to the stage, but all is not what it seems. After being placed on ‘administrative leave’, Portnow’s replacement, Deborah Dugan has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mere days before the annual Grammy Awards.
Within the document, the Academy official has said it was “all made possible by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.” Complaints include sexual allegations, one against Portnow, in which he is accused of raping a foreign recording artist after a show at Carnegie Hall. Another allegation has been made against the Academy’s general counsel, Joel Katz who has been described as making “an obvious and unwelcome attempt to ‘woo’” Dugan over a bottle of wine, attempting to kiss her.
Katz has reportedly denied the claim while Portnow has said the claim against him has been investigated by lawyers with evidence found to “completely exonerate him”, according to several reports.
Overnight, the Recording Academy responded to the official complain in a statement to Pitchfork.
“It is curious that Ms. Dugan never raised these grave allegations until a week after legal claims were made against her personally by a female employee who alleged Ms. Dugan had created a ‘toxic and intolerable’ work environment and engaged in ‘abusive and bullying conduct’. When Ms. Dugan did raise her “concerns” to HR, she specifically instructed HR “not to take any action” in response.
Nonetheless, we immediately launched independent investigations to review both Ms. Dugan’s potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations. Both of these investigations remain ongoing. Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave only after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization. Our loyalty will always be to the 21,000 members of the recording industry. We regret that Music’s Biggest Night is being stolen from them by Ms. Dugan’s actions and we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
Dugan’s lawyers have since responded to the Recording Academy’s statement saying, “As the charge filed today clearly alleges, the assertion that Ms. Dugan did not raise concerns prior to the accusations manufactured against her is completely false.”
According to insiders, Taylor Swift pulled out her performance at the #Grammys after it was announced that the former President of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan was fired for wanting clarity and transparency in the voting process 👏🏻👏🏻.
— Taylor Swift News (@TSwiftNewsLA) January 22, 2020
The question remains as to what this means for Sunday’s ceremony. In the past, artists have opted not to attend in protest of the Recording Academy’s lack of diversity and last year, Drake made an explosive speech in regards to the Academy before he was cut short. Now, Taylor Swift has since pulled out of the 2020 Grammy Awards following the controversy.
Stay tuned for the responses of other celebrities.