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Grammys and fired female CEO locked in a battle of ugly finger-pointing

Grammys and fired female CEO locked in a battle of ugly finger-pointing
'Get woke, go broke' might be an entertainment industry cliche, but the Grammys are getting a dose of reality, battling with a terminated first female CEO in a perfect storm of opposing narratives and discrimination accusations.

Deborah Dugan was hired in 2019 as the first female CEO and president of the Recording Academy, the organization that runs the Grammy Awards for music. The decision was hailed as a historic moment for diversity in the music industry. However, she was placed on leave in January, just five months into her tenure, with the governing board explaining that she had “consistent management deficiencies and failures” along with an unspecified “allegation of misconduct” from a female subordinate.

Dugan then accused the academy of sexual discrimination before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming the organization “rigged” the Grammy nomination process prior to the music awards show and fired her when she spoke out. She also said the Academy had a “boys’ club mentality.”

The Academy subsequently filed a complaint against Dugan, claiming she “breached her employment contract and fiduciary duties,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Academy executives sent out a letter to staffers alleging that Dugan was fired after two “costly” investigations and that she had engaged in an “unwarranted and damaging media campaign” to sabotage the Grammy Awards.

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Dugan hit back on Tuesday, expanding her complaint with emails that contained conversations between members of the Recording Academy responsible for organizing the Grammys. She says they show that the system for nominating musicians and artists was “rigged,” with some producers asking for nominations so they could secure a performance from particular celebrities who might be willing to appear on the broadcast if their music was selected.

Her lawyers have accused the Academy of being “more interested in protecting itself than remedying sexual harassment, discrimination and voting irregularities, and that anyone who dares to stand against the Academy’s unlawful conduct will be harshly punished.”

This is not the first scandal to rock the Grammys in recent years. Dugan's predecessor Neil Portnow was widely criticized for telling female artists to “step up.” Though he attempted to walk back the comments, he would later decide to let his contract expire.

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