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Grammys CEO says she was ousted for reporting harassment

The complaint, which accuses the academy of being a 'boys club,' comes just days before the Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles.
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Nov. 13, 2019 Recording Academy President Deborah Dugan at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honoring Juanes in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

The ousted Grammys CEO has fired back at the Recording Academy with a complaint claiming she was retaliated against after reporting she was subjected to sexual harassment and gender discrimination during her six-month tenure. 

Lawyers for Deborah Dugan, who the academy placed on administrative leave last week, filed a discrimination case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday. In the complaint, she claims she was subjected to sexual harassment from the academy's general counsel, Joel Katz, which Dugan put in an email to academy sent on December 22, 2019. 

The complaint, which accuses the academy of being a "boys club," comes just days before the Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles.

Dugan, the former CEO of Bono’s (RED) charity organization, was quoted in the Associated Press speaking about the alleged harassment another claimant in a lawsuit reported. Dugan says, “at the time, I didn’t want to believe it," going on to say, “but, now after 5 months of being exposed to the behavior and circumstances outlined here, I have come to suspect she is right.” 

Credit: Eric Jamison/Invision/AP
Nov. 14, 2019 Grammys CEO Deborah Dugan at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. (Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision/AP, File)

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Dugan alleges in the complaint that in May of 2019 she accepted the CEO position with the Recording Academy, and before beginning work, the Academy's general counsel Joel Katz requested that she meet him in Laguna Niguel, California alone for dinner. Dugan alleges that Katz acted “extremely inappropriately,” the complaint says and called Dugan "baby," she alleges in the complaint, making “an obvious and unwelcome attempt to ‘woo’ Ms. Dugan into a romantic relationship.” 

As the Associated Press reports, Dugan, according to the statement, was placed on administrative leave after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization. 

Part of a response by the Recording Academy was quoted in the Associated Press and it reads, “Our loyalty will always be to the 21,000 members of the Recording Academy. 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.” 

An email from Katz reportedly said the attorney was not in the office because of an illness, and his firm responded by saying they had not seen the complaint and could not comment on the allegations.