The Recording Academy officially fired their CEO and president, Deborah Dugan, on March 3.

The organization told its members on Monday, “This decision of the Board, with full support of the Executive Committee, was based on: Two exhaustive, costly independent investigations relating to Ms. Dugan and the allegations made against her and by her.”

Dugan was removed from her position last January, three weeks after filing a 44-page discriminitation complaint alleging sexual harassment, corrupt voting procedures, unequal pay and gender discrimination. She claimed that the institution’s practices used “tactics reminiscent of those deployed by individuals defending Harvey Weinstein.”

Among the several allegations, Dugan claimed that Grammy lawer, Joel Ketz, sexually harassed her. She stated that Latz commented on her good looks and called her “babe.” “The evening went on to trying to kiss me. All the way through I felt like I was being tested in how I would acquiesce,” she said.


The Academy said in a statement that “all allegations against the Recording Academy are categorically false and that the allegations made against her true.”

Dugan was hired in 2018 to become the Recording Academy’s first female president. Dugan symbolized a fresh start after her predecessor, Neil Portnow, was accused of rape and received widespread backlash for commenting that women in the music industry should “step up” in order to be recognized by the Academy. In her short five months as president, Dugan approved a series of changes to address the ceremony’s issues of diversity and gender imbalance.

“While I am disappointed by this latest development,” said Dugan in a statement.”I am not surprised given the academy’s pattern of dealing with whistle-blowers. Is anyone surprised that its purported investigations did not include interviewing me or addressing the greater claims of conflicts of interest and voting irregularities?”

Complaints about Dugan were filed in November 2019. The New York Times reported that Claudine Little, Dugan’s executive assistant and Portnow’s former assistant, accused Dugan of a “bullying management style” which led the assistant to take a leave of absence. Dugan’s lawyers insist that Little was unsuitable for the position and that Dugan kept her “out of the goodness of her heart.”

The executive committee wrote, “We placed our trust in her and believed she would effectively lead the organization. Unfortunately, that is not what happened.” 

The academy will search for Dugan’s replacement within the next few days.

Celebrities such as Chuck D, Gabrielle Union, Natkins and Megyn Kelly have used their social media accounts to defend Dugan publicly.

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My open letter To The Grammy’s and Hip hop ✊🏾 ………… Figures… I salute Deborah Dugan for her truth and courage to try and effect change. As always, a bunch of ignorant, testosterone-fueled, usually old white men stop progress and screw it up.  Same old bullshit. They want to keep it status quo and make sure things like Hip Hop stay the poster child of their fuckery. In 1989 we protested the Grammys because they refused to acknowledge a new art form called Hip Hop/Rap.  I responded with the lyric, “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy.” We fought to be recognized and for things to change. We kicked that door in for others to come through. After 35 years in this industry, folks should know that I always defer any individual accomplishment, always giving salutes to those before me and trying to open the door for those after me.  In agreeing to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award when Deborah called me was no different. We discussed these issues and what needed to change. Hip Hop can’t be judged by a bunch of old corporate guards who rewrite history to serve their corporate bottom line. But it was obvious she was having her own struggles with an academy that thinks Public Enemy ended in 1992 yet want to give us a lifetime achievement award without acknowledging a lifetime of work. We had to haggle, to educate, to justify why a core member of our group for the past 22 years, DJ Lord, should be part of this award. We had to question why our biggest UK hit and the theme to the global Paralympics Games, “Harder Than You Think,” was left out. Maybe because it was released on my own independent label, SlamJamz, and not a major? Never could I have imagined that pushing for the recognition our art form deserved would turn into artists being coerced into disrespecting the craft, themselves, the culture and other people only to chase the bag and validation from corporations and award shows who don’t care about you.  I hope this letter will be a wake-up call for them. New folks but the same ol bullshit pattern doesn’t change a thing. So I’m not surprised that Deborah Dugan is out. I am appalled because it reeks of the same old jive, a New Whirl Odor that ..

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