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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

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