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Ousted Grammy Chief Asks Academy to Make Legal Docs Public: ‘The Public Has the Right to Know’

Deborah Dugan
Rozette Rago for Rolling Stone

After two days of quiet on the Recording Academy vs. Deborah Dugan front, the organization’s ousted CEO has asked to be released from the arbitration agreement she signed when she joined the Academy. The contract she signed upon joining the Academy last year requires her to arbitrate any disputes confidentially.

“The Academy intentionally brought this dispute to the public’s attention, and I am asking you to agree to let the public and music industry access the legal proceedings to come in this case,” she wrote. “I have nothing to hide. The public and the music industry have the right to know what is going on behind closed doors at the Academy.”

Dugan was placed on administrative leave after just five months on the job on Jan. 16 after a senior female executive, who multiple sources say is her former assistant Claudine Little, accused her of unspecified “misconduct.” Dugan hit back five days later with a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was loaded with strong allegations, including sexual harassment, “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities,” among other claims.

“To the extent that the Academy is successful in forcing me to arbitrate my claims, it will simultaneously be denying the music industry and the public at large information concerning the issues raised in my EEOC Charge, including, among other things, discrimination, wasteful spending, sexual harassment, self-dealing, conflicts of interest and irregularities in the Grammys voting process,” Dugan continues in the letter.

She also says the Academy’s investigation into the claims detailed in her complaint is “completely biased” because the investigator retained by the organization was “handpicked” by Proskauer Rose, LLP — which she described in the complaint as “one of the law firms that is ‘in bed’ with the Academy.”

Tina Tchen, head of the Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, is cc’d on the letter. After lambasting the Academy on Friday for its failure to implement the recommendations of a report on diversity and inclusivity last month, the Task Force has agreed to work with the organization to further those goals.

A rep for the Academy responded, “Ms. Dugan continues to attempt to manage public perceptions through misinformation. The Recording Academy is weighing all of the available information and considering our options as it relates to the next steps with Ms. Dugan. We remain extremely disappointed in how she is choosing to handle the situation and strongly disagree with many of her claims. At this point, we are focused on the future and are excited about continuing the agenda of change and progress.”