Report: Deborah Dugan demanded ‘millions’ to resign as Recording Academy boss


In an email to its membership, Recording Academy board Chairman Harvey Mason Jr. accused Deborah Dugan of demanding payment to withdraw her allegations and resign.
(Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images)

The war of words and inflammatory accusations between the Recording Academy and its recently sidelined president and chief executive, Deborah Dugan, heated up further Monday as board Chairman Harvey Mason Jr. accused Dugan of offering, through her lawyer, to drop her complaint of wrongdoing and resign in exchange for a multimillion-dollar contract buyout.

Dugan reportedly submitted a memo to the organization’s human resources department detailing her concerns about practices she had discovered including voting irregularities, financial mismanagement, “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees and “conflicts of interest involving members of the academy’s board, executive committee and outside lawyers.”

Dugan only took the position on Aug. 1, but on Thursday, just 10 days ahead of the 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony, she was placed on administrative leave in response to a complaint of misconduct filed by “a senior member of the Recording Academy team.”

Mason’s memo to academy members, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, said the employee’s complaint contained “serious allegations of a ‘toxic and intolerable’ and ‘abusive and bullying’ environment created by Ms. Dugan towards the staff.”

A source close to Dugan recently characterized the situation as “a routine HR matter.”


Recording Academy Board of Trustees chair Harvey Mason Jr.
(Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Mason also wrote that, “After we received the employee complaints against Ms. Dugan, she then (for the first time) made allegations against the Academy. In response, we started a separate investigation into Ms. Dugan’s allegations.

“Ms. Dugan’s attorney then informed the Executive Committee that if Ms. Dugan was paid millions of dollars, she would ‘withdraw’ her allegations and resign from her role as CEO,” Mason’s memo stated. “Following that communication from Ms. Dugan’s attorney, Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave as we complete both of these ongoing investigations.”

Billboard cited two sources at the academy who allege that she had asked for $22 million to withdraw her complaint and that the academy countered with a significantly lower figure, which she rejected.



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