Deborah Dugan terminated as Grammys CEO
Deborah Dugan has officially been terminated in her position as President/CEO of the Recording Academy.
On Monday, the Recording Academy sent a letter to its members informing them of the Board of Trustees' decision to terminate her employment. In response, Dugan’s lawyers have blasted the Academy in a press release, accusing it of “misogyny” and “corruption” and vowing legal action.
Dugan was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16, only 10 days before the Grammy Awards, in response to a misconduct allegation. In turn, she responded by suing the Recording Academy, making her own claims of sexual harassment and alleging she was a victim of "retaliation" for exposing a "boys' club" within the organization.
Monday's decision, which the letter states was made with the full support of the Executive Committee, cites two "costly independent investigations" related to allegations made by and against Dugan, as well as what they say was Dugan's "unwarranted and damaging media campaign that she launched in an attempt, without justification, to derail the Grammy Awards show." It also points to her "consistent management deficiencies and failures, and other factors."
"This is not what we wanted or what we expected when we hired Ms. Dugan last year," the letter reads. "At the time, we placed our trust in her and believed she would effectively lead the organization. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Though she made some valuable contributions, Ms. Dugan failed to perform her job duties as promised and expected."
The letter goes on to explain the board's decision for termination instead of settlement and Dugan's resignation, "Although we did participate in some settlement discussions at Ms. Dugan’s request after she stated that it was her desire to leave the Academy and be bought out of her employment contract, we were ultimately compelled to dismiss Ms. Dugan as our President/CEO. Not removing Ms. Dugan from the organization at this time would have caused us to compromise our values. We could not reward her with a lucrative settlement and thereby set a precedent that behavior like hers has no consequence. Our members and employees, and the entire music industry, deserve better than that."
In an official statement, Interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. wrote, "After weighing all of the evidence from two independent investigations, the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy voted to terminate Ms. Dugan from her role as President/CEO. We will initiate a search for a new leader who will leverage the Academy’s diverse membership and rich history and help us transform it to better serve our members today and into the future. As we structure this new search, we will look carefully to see where the last one led us astray and make any necessary changes going forward."
Dugan's legal team, Douglas H. Widor and Michael J. Willemin of Wigdor LLP, also shared a statement in response to the news of her termination. "The Academy’s decision to terminate Ms. Dugan and immediately leak that information to the press further demonstrates that it will stop at nothing to protect and maintain a culture of misogyny, discrimination, sexual harassment, corruption and conflicts of interest," it reads. "The decision is despicable and, in due course, the Academy, its leadership and its attorneys will be held accountable under the law."
Later in the day, Dugan herself released a statement, which read, “I was recruited and hired by the Recording Academy to make positive change; unfortunately, I was not able to do that as its CEO. While I am disappointed by this latest development, I am not surprised given the Academy’s pattern of dealing with whistleblowers. Is anyone surprised that its purported investigations did not include interviewing me or addressing the greater claims of conflicts of interest and voting irregularities? So, instead of trying to reform the corrupt institution from within, I will continue to work to hold accountable those who continue to self-deal, taint the Grammy voting process and discriminate against women and people of color. Artists deserve better. To me, this is the real meaning of 'stepping up.'"
This article has been updated to include Dugan's personal statement.