Former MusiCares VP Settles Lawsuit With Recording Academy

UPDATED: Dana Tomarken, former vice president of MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation, has settled her wrongful termination lawsuit against the Recording Academy, her attorney Christine Adams has confirmed to Variety.

A statement released by Adams, who declined to provide further details, reads: “With the assistance of a retired judge acting as a mediator, Dana Tomarken and the Recording Academy have resolved their employment dispute.  All parties have agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.  The Recording Academy and Ms. Tomarken care deeply about MusiCares’ mission of providing critical assistance to music creators in times of need.

“Despite their differences, Ms. Tomarken and the Recording Academy were motivated to put this dispute behind them in order to allow the Recording Academy and the MusiCares Foundation to continue to focus on that mission.” A rep for the Recording Academy confirmed the settlement.

News of Tomarken’s April 2018 termination, after 25 years with the Academy, and lawsuit was first reported by Variety, as were the contents of a withering 4,500 letter she wrote to the Academy’s Board of Trustees the following month. In it, she claimed wrongful termination over a $2,500 MusiCares auction item that she was late in paying, and accused former chairman/president Neil Portnow of brokering a deal without her knowledge to hold the organization’s annual Person of the Year event at a venue that left the charity with a significant loss in its fundraising efforts. The Grammy Awards were held in New York that year for the first time since 2003, leading to a $5 million shortfall for the show, which Tomarken claimed Portnow attempted to cover by steering funds away from MusiCares; Portnow and the Academy denied any wrongdoing.

She also said she was terminated “after a painful year of trying to protect MusiCares from being exploited, enduring ongoing instances of workplace abuse and harassment” from two male coworkers whom she named in the letter.

Tomarken filed her lawsuit in February, which also encompassed labor-code violation, age and gender discrimination and unlawful retaliation; she also accused the Academy of being a “boys’ club.” The Academy responded that the “accusations have no merit.”

Her termination and lawsuit intensified an already contentious atmosphere at the Academy in the wake of Portnow’s comment after the 2018 Grammys that female artists and executives needed to “step up” in order to advance in the industry. He announced several months later that he would step down from his post, and did so last summer.

He has since been replaced by former (Red) CEO Deborah Dugan, who took the helm in August and last week hosted the announcement of the 2020 Grammy nominees.



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