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Deborah Dugan’s Accuser Says Former Grammys CEO Is Spreading a ‘False Narrative’

Recording Academy administration director Claudine Little, who filed the first complaint against Dugan, claims Dugan “hopes to leverage public opinion along gender lines”

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Amy X. Wang Jan 23, 2020

Deborah Dugan, the executive at the heart of the spiraling Grammys controversy. Photo: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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The drama around Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan’s unexpected ouster from her post last week continues to rapidly unfurl. On Tuesday, Dugan filed a 46-page discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, contesting her exit from the Academy and accusing members of sexual harassment and assault. In it, Dugan also accused the Academy’s director of administration Claudine Little — who was previously the executive assistant to former CEO Neil Portnow for 17 years — of filing an unfair complaint of “bullying” against her with colleagues. On Wednesday, Little responded with a claim that Dugan is spreading a “false narrative,” and is reportedly preparing a lawsuit against Dugan alleging abuse and mistreatment.

“Ms. Dugan’s choice to litigate in the press and spread a false narrative about the Academy and me and my colleagues is regrettable, but it is also emblematic of Ms. Dugan’s abusive and bullying conduct while she served as the Academy’s President and CEO,” Little told Rolling Stone via a representative. “I am proud of my career with the Academy — where, as a woman, I was able to work my way from secretary to Director of Administration in the executive suite, solely based on merit and while working for and with leaders far more demanding and hard-charging than Ms. Dugan. It is disappointing that Ms. Dugan hopes to leverage public opinion along gender lines and expects not to be scrutinized for her inexcusable behavior simply because she is a woman; she should be held to the same standard.”

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Little’s rep declined to provide the contents of the letter that she sent to the Academy alleging Dugan’s misconduct, but confirmed that she first contacted the Academy regarding the “work environment under Ms. Dugan” on December 17th, 2019. Dugan filed her own set of allegations — which widely addressed harassment, the work environment, and corruption within the organization — with the Academy’s human resources head Shonda Grant on December 22nd, 2019, according to Dugan’s EEOC complaint on Tuesday.

“There appears to be a manufactured crisis shaped by the Executive Committee’s unseen contacts with Claudine,” Dugan wrote to Grant on December 22nd. “The fact that the Executive Committee has chosen to manufacture this crisis to my distinct disadvantage raises some serious questions of their creating a hostile and retaliatory work environment in order to derail my efforts at addressing serious fiduciary irregularities and concerning conflicts of interest.”

Via the rep, Little also declined to comment on the allegations set forth in Dugan’s complaint surrounding Neil Portnow and sexual assault.

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