×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fired MusiCares Exec Claims She Was Victim of Grammy ‘Boys’ Club’

UPDATED: A former VP of MusiCares sued the Recording Academy on Monday, alleging she was fired after blowing the whistle on financial impropriety.

Dana Tomarken, 75, also alleges that she was terminated because of her age and gender, and accuses Academy chairman and president Neil Portnow of running a “boys’ club.”

After she was fired in April, Variety broke the news that Tomarken had written a 4,500-word letter to the Recording Academy’s board, in which she accused Portnow of steering money away from the Grammy’s charitable organization.

On Tuesday, a rep for the Recording Academy sent Variety the following statement: “The accusations have no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves.”

MusiCares provides medical and other assistance to members of the music community. Tomarken had been with the organization for 25 years when was fired.

In her lawsuit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, Tomarken states that the organization was hit with unexpected costs due to its decision to hold the 2018 Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden. Tomarken alleges she was pressured to hold MusiCares’ annual gala, the Person of the Year event, at Radio City Music Hall, which is operated by MSG. She states that as a result of higher costs, the event raised only $1 million — down from $5 million in previous years.

Tomarken accuses Portnow of blocking her efforts to brief the board on the matter. Around the same time, she says she was confronted with allegations that she had used an unsold hotel certificate from a MusiCares auction to go to Portugal. She says she paid for the item as soon as she was reminded of it.

Tomarken says the investigation of the Portugal hotel voucher was used as a pretext to fire her, after 25 years of service to MusiCares. She also alleges that she, like other women at the Academy, were held out of top leadership roles, and that she was repeatedly denied promotions.

“She was treated worse as she became older,” the suit alleges. “The culture of sexism that pervaded the Academy and MusiCares was evidenced by the ‘boys’ club’ surrounding Neil Portnow… The so-called boys’ club was a group of men who were deeply loyal to Mr. Portnow, regularly socialized with him, and served as go-tos for anything he needed. Multiple women failed at breaking down the barriers to join this club.”

The suit alleges violations of anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws.

In response to Tomarken’s letter last May, the Academy said that MusiCares’ interests were not sacrificed to benefit the Academy, and that Tomarken had not raised her claims of mistreatment until after she was fired.

Tomarken suit by on Scribd

More Music

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    John Singleton, the two-time Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as “mild.” According to TMZ, which first broke the news, [...]

  • Childish Gambino Concert Review

    Chance the Rapper Appears at Childish Gambino's Weekend Two Coachella Set

    Though Childish Gambino’s weekend two Coachella set didn’t vary too much from his electrifying first one, it did feature a new but familiar face. When Gambino popped backstage during a band feature, accompanied by the cameramen that made his set in part like watching a concert film on a massive screen, Grammy winning musician Chance [...]

  • Marketing Guru Sour Matt Brings Cannabis,

    A 4/20 Special: Sour Matt on Bringing Cannabis, Hip-Hop and Branding Together

    Sour Matt might be one of the most mysterious yet well-respected figures in the cannabis industry, as well as a growing force in the music business with which it intersects. With more than 100,000 followers on Instagram alone, he describes himself as “someone who likes to connect the dots, working with other creatives to build [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Will SmithNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Will Smith Joins Jaden to Perform 'Icon' at Coachella

    Parents just do understand the importance of Coachella. Jaden Smith was joined in the Sahara tent Friday night by father Will for a performance of “Icon” — as Instagrammed by the proud papa. The footage of Will Smith rapping was shot by Jaden, who turns his smartphone camera around just long enough to photobomb his [...]

  • Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella

    Brandy, Jay Rock Help Anderson .Paak Light Up Coachella Weekend Two

    Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals took the Coachella stage at the second weekend of the storied fest as the sun descended, but the musician’s fiery set was more than enough to light up the audience. The performance, which featured pyrotechnics including fireworks and flames alongside the rapper’s slinky stage moves, was relatively heavy on [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale

    Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale Date

    UPDATED: The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed. Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content