Deborah Dugan describes Grammys voting process as “tainted”

"There are incidents of conflicts of interest that taint the results"

Former Grammys boss Deborah Dugan has discussed her lawsuit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in more detail on Good Morning America

The lawsuit, which has been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), comes less than a week after Dugan was placed on leave for alleged “misconduct.”

According to the EEOC complaint, Dugan says she was instead put on administrative leave some three weeks after sending an email to the Academy’s managing director of human resources, which detailed serious allegations against the Recording Academy and its “historically male dominated leadership”.


The lawsuit also claimed that Ms Dugan’s administrative leave was in direct retaliation to her complaint, and also alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment.

“The decision to put Ms. Dugan on leave was clearly made in retaliation for her complaint, and came with thinly veiled threats of termination in the event that Ms. Dugan persisted in pursuing claims against the Academy,” it states.

Speaking about the allegations today (January 23) when asked by Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos if the Grammy voting system was “rigged” Dugan, who appeared with her lawyer on the show, said there were “conflicts of interest” – something she alleges “taint[s] the results.”

Dugan said: “I’m saying the system should be transparent and there are incidents of conflicts of interest that taint the results. I hate that I’m in this situation because I’d much rather be talking about the artists and the music.”

In the Song of the Year category, Dugan alleges that a low-ranking song which shouldn’t have been a contender in the category became one because an artist was represented by a member of the Academy’s board. Whilst Dugan wouldn’t identify the artist in question to protect “the integrity of all those artists who are going to perform” she also alleged the case was not in isolation.


“I have evidence that in another room — because there were complaints made in the Jazz category…” Dugan added.

She continued: “It’s very serious…and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could make a difference.”

Dugan went on to say that she would still be watching the show on Sunday. “I worked very hard on the show and I love the artists that are going to be performing and I love all those that are nominated and those that don’t get the honour of being nominated.”

Deborah Dugan
Deborah Dugan CREDIT: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In her series of bombshell claims against the organisation, Dugan also alleged she was informed that former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow is facing an allegation of rape from a female recording artist. Portnow has since denied the allegations calling them “ludicrous and untrue” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Portnow, her predecessor, famously faced major backlash in 2018 when he suggested that female artists should “step up” if they wanted to achieve access.

In their response to CNN, the Recording Academy denied the claims and said it was “curious” that Dugan had only decided to pursue action once she was facing separate allegations that she “created a ‘toxic and intolerable’ work environment and engaged in ‘abusive and bullying conduct’”.

Their statement added: “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 organisation.”

Responding to the academy in turn, lawyers for Ms. Dugan said she “repeatedly raised concerns throughout her entire tenure at the Academy, and even gave large presentations focused on diversity and inclusion at Board meetings”.

The Grammys will take place this Sunday (January 27). Confirmed performers include Lizzo, Aerosmith and Demi Lovato.