Grammys Head Fired Over Misconduct Claim, But Other Employees Allege a 'Coup'

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When former Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow resigned from his position after he told women they needed to “step up” to win Grammys, he was replaced by executive Deborah Dugan. But just ten days before the awards ceremony Dugan has been removed from her position at the company, the Los Angeles Times first reported.


As for why she was removed, the New York Times reports that it’s because “of concerns raised to the Recording Academy board of trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team,” the academy said in a statement. A source close to the events told the paper that an assistant accused Dugan of “a bullying management style.”

But the claim, which was investigated by two independent investigators, might not have been the only reason for Dugan’s ouster. Sources told Variety that the removal might have been a “coup” and quotes one person saying that “a lot of the board members couldn’t stand her.” The New York Times also reports that Dugan sent a memo to HR three weeks before her removal with concerns about the organization’s practices, which included conflicts of interests with board members and “voting irregularities.” Yikes!

None of this negates the fact that an assistant filed a misconduct claim that was serious enough to cause her to take a leave of absence from work. But the sources in both these pieces suggest this isn’t a black and white issue of a misconduct claim in a time where the Academy might be resistant to change, especially at the hands of a woman executive.



The article doesn’t say who hired or paid the independent investigators, but assuming they’re on the up and up, the question should be whether the behavior by Dugan’s that is cited as the basis for her ouster actually occurred, and whether it rises to the level of being fireable. That one or more people have an improper ulterior motive for canning Dugan should not save her if her conduct is actually actionable... but it does make it necessary that the allegations against her not simply be taken at face value.