Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Grammy Lawsuit Update: (Exclusive) No Lawsuit This Week as Recording Academy Employee Waits for Investigations


Here’s an update in the saga going on at the Grammys and the Recording Academy:

Claudine Little, the executive assistant to ousted NARAS chief Deborah Dugan, will not be filing a lawsuit this week. I am told she’s waiting to see the results of investigations into her complaints against Dugan, the Academy’s own investigation into Dugan.

Little has hired, as I wrote yesterday, the law firm Glaser Weil in Hollywood, heavy hitters in the field of employee litigation. But Glaser herself is not handling the case. Kerry Garvis Wright is the partner who’s taken on Little’s side. She’s considered a top litigator with a lot of interest in the music business. Wright, however, is not talking for the time being.

Sources point out to me that Little worked for Michael Greene at the Academy before she was Neil Portnow’s assistant. She has a long history with the Academy and knows where all the bodies are buried. One source says, “Claudine could have been a great resource for Dugan. But instead, Deborah chose to make life difficult for her. She wanted her out and kept moving targets so that Claudine couldn’t succeed.”

What developed was a hostile work environment. Little took a leave of absence after filing a report with Human Resources. It wasn’t until after that Dugan sent her own letter about the Academy, which ultimately got her put on administrative leave.

The acting head of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr, sent a letter out today to the “Academy Family.” He wrote: “In November of 2019, the Executive Committee became aware of abusive work environment complaints alleged against Ms. Dugan and in December 2019, a letter was sent from an attorney representing a staff member that included additional detailed and serious allegations of a “toxic and intolerable” and “abusive and bullying” environment created by Ms. Dugan towards the staff. Given these concerning reports, the Executive Committee launched an immediate and independent investigation into the alleged misconduct of Ms. Dugan.

“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. Following that communication from Ms. Dugan’s attorney, Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave as we complete both of these ongoing investigations.”

Mason is concerned about leaks depicting the Academy as the bad guy here. I think (that’s me, Roger) that Dugan was very clever in picking the same attorney — Bryan Freedman– who tried to make Meghan Kelly into a martyr at NBC after they fired her for endorsing black face (among other things). Freedman got the jump on the Academy with a press attack.

Meantime, it’s Grammy week, and none of this should affect that. The Grammys go on, particularly the Sunday afternoon stuff where all kinds of cool people are honored. And the show on CBS Sunday at 8pm will be the usual combination of stunning surprises and crazy new music that only the kids like.

More to come, so hold on. PS My thanks to my pals at Variety for giving this column a nice attribution today.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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