Former Grammys boss Deborah Dugan sues recording academy and alleges sexual harassment

She was dismissed for apparent "misconduct" last week

Former Grammys boss Deborah Dugan has filed a lawsuit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, alleging she was sacked as Grammys boss after raising allegations of sexual harassment.

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

In her series of bombshell claims against the organisation, Dugan also says she was informed that former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow is facing an allegation of rape from a female recording artist. Portnow is yet to respond to the claim.

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

Grammys organisation
Former Grammys boss Neil Portnow

Elsewhere, the complaint details the “historic” under-representation of women and minority groups within the Grammys Awards and notes that the Academy has “routinely faced criticism for failing to honour Black artists”.

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”.

Before becoming president of the Recording Academy, Dugan had been the chief executive at (Red), the AIDS nonprofit founded in 2006 by U2 singer Bono.

The Grammys will take place this Sunday (January 27), with nominations led by the likes of Shawn Mendes and Ariana Grande. Confirmed performers include the likes of Lizzo, Aerosmith and Demi Lovato.