Woman sues Grammy organization, alleging age and gender discrimination

LOS ANGELES — A 57-year-old former director of digital and marketing at the National Academy or Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), 57, is suing the organization that awards the Grammy Awards, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2021 because of his age and sexism.

Lisa Farris’ allegations in Los Angeles Superior Court further include retaliation, harassment and intentionally inflicted emotional suffering. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit filed Wednesday, May 11.

A representative for NARAS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Farris was hired in January 2019 and quickly learned that NARAS “actively tried to hire a woman for the position of chief digital officer” following a backlash suffered by the organization after a “misogynistic” response to public comments from the organization’s former CEO, Neil
Portnow, the suit declares.

Amid growing scrutiny of the lack of diversity within the organization and among its Grammy nominees and winners, Portnow told reporters at the 2018 Grammys that women ‘who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers and want to be part of the industry at the executive level” must ”step up”.

A public backlash against Portnow ensued, including calls for his resignation. He left when his contract expired in July 2019.

Although NARAS was “fully aware of its good old boy culture”, the organization attempted to mask its existence by placing women in leadership positions and then stripping them of their authority and ability to speak out. such conditions, according to the lawsuit. .

Farris learned that the three employees she supervised and one in the marketing department were unqualified and had received little corrective action for unprofessional behavior, the suit says. Although his concerns were dismissed, the same workers were fired after COO Brandon Chapman raised the same concerns in September 2020, according to the suit.

Farris later learned that she was not being paid equal pay for some of the same benefits as her male colleagues, the suit says.

Three times in 2019, editor Justin Joseph alleged that because Farris is a middle-aged white woman, she was one of the few beneficiaries of the #MeToo movement, the lawsuit says. Farris’ complaints to human resources about the remark were ignored, according to the lawsuit.

When Farris’s duties were expanded in June 2019, she was denied a raise and told she hadn’t worked long enough for NARAS, the suit says.

Conditions did not improve when Portnow left, the suit says. Harvey Mason Jr. was named interim CEO in January 2020 and permanent CEO in May 2021, the lawsuit says. Mason is a songwriter, producer and filmmaker who has worked with clients including Whitney Houston and Britney Spears.

Mason suggested that Farris’ duties were going to change and when she objected to the way he was going about it, he started avoiding and neglecting her, which led her to feel like if she had “diminished value” and led her to believe more than ever that she was being pushed out of her role and the company, the suit states.

In August 2021, Chapman and Shonda Grant, NARAS’ chief people and culture officer, terminated Farris’ employment, telling her that they would “really miss working with her”, but that Mason and the new high management had decided to go in a different direction. , states the suit. Another executive had told Farris a month earlier that Chapman and Grant were “trying to make their case to get
get rid of (Farris),’ the suit reads.

Mason and Grant are co-accused in the lawsuit with NARAS.

— City News Service

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