AZ Dispatch - promo

Dorothy Carvello is suing Ahmet Ertegun’s estate to shake up the music industry

Dorothy Carvello still remembers the day she was fired from her dream job at Atlantic Records for playing by the rules.

It was September 1990, and she had just written a memo to her boss, reporting a possible human-resources violation, according to a lawsuit Carvello filed in New York state court against the record label earlier this week. Carvello claimed that her supervisor told her, “Honey, come sit on my lap,” during a work meeting in front of other male executives, as a condition of joining the meeting, the lawsuit said. She said in the court filing that she refused, but the supervisor insisted, drawing laughter from the room.

Carvello left the meeting and wrote the memo, also calling out the “juvenile behavior by all the men at Atlantic Records.” She said she hoped the report would bring punishment for the supervisor and change in the company.

Instead, the next day Carvello, a former assistant who worked her way up to become the label’s first female artists-and-repertoire executive, said in court documents that she received word she had lost her job.

“It was a dream job in a creative field, and a very hard job to get,” Carvello said in an interview with The Times this week. “And to be treated as less than a human being was a very shocking thing to me.”

The alleged incident was only the latest of a long list of instances of abuse, she said in the suit. Carvello also claimed in the suit that, after she was hired in 1987, she endured sexual harassment and assault by executives at the company. That included from Ahmet Ertegun, the late co-founder and longtime chief executive of Atlantic, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also names the estate of Ertegun and Warner Music Group, which owns Atlantic Records, as defendants.

It’s the second lawsuit filed against Ertegun’s estate and the music label in as many weeks. Last week Jan Roeg, a former music manager, alleged a similar pattern of sexual assault by the late executive and accused Atlantic of fostering a toxic work culture and covering up the abuse in a lawsuit against the label and estate.

Carvello told The Times that she hopes her lawsuit will ensure no other individual would have to endure what she went through.

“What I’m advocating for, and one of the reasons why I’m doing this, is that we need a safe environment where male and female artists or employees can make a complaint and not have it held against them,” Carvello said. “The people complaining shouldn’t be thrown out.”

Dorothy Carvello, a former executive at Atlantic Records, accused Ahmet Ertegun and two other label executives of sexual assault in the 1980s and ’90s.

In a statement, Warner Music Group said its company has changed since the time of the alleged incidents and takes “allegations of misconduct very seriously,” and assures that there are policies in place to ensure a safe work environment, such as a code of conduct and mandatory workplace training.

“These allegations date back nearly 40 years, to before WMG was a standalone company. We are speaking with people who were there at the time, taking into consideration that many key individuals are deceased or into their 80s and 90s,” the music company told The Times through a spokesperson.

Ertegun, who was widely credited with shaping the sound of American pop music for decades, died in 2006 at age 83.

But Doug Morris and Jason Flom — both named in Carvello’s complaint as defendants — are still alive and remain influential in the music industry.

The lawsuit accuses the label executives of enabling Ertegun’s misconduct and also makes allegations against Flom and Morris. Carvello claimed in the suit that it was Flom who allegedly asked Carvello to sit on his lap. And Morris allegedly had Carvello fired for speaking up, the suit said.

Man wearing a suit jacket and brown round glasses sits in a chair with his right hand against his face

Ahmet Ertegun co-founded Atlantic Records in 1947 and remained its chairman until his death in 2006.
( Mitsu Yasukawa / FTT)

Morris and Flom went on to illustrious careers: Morris served as the head the three major labels — Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment —and he founded the video streaming service Vevo. Flom became the chairman of Atlantic Records and Virgin Records, founded Lava Records and is credited with launching the careers of pop stars such as Katy Perry and Lorde.

Flom is also an influential advocate for criminal justice reform and is a founding board member of the Innocence Project. He sits on the board of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Legal Action Center, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, NYU Prison Education Program and other groups.

The organizations affiliated with Flom did not respond to requests for comment.

Flom did not respond to multiple requests for comment. And Morris could not be reached for comment.

Ahmet Ertegun, the Turkish ambassador’s son whose ear for the culture of black America would make his Atlantic Records a legendary fount of 20th century popular music, died Thursday.

Carvello told The Times she sees sexual assault in the music industry as a persistent, ongoing issue.

After she first went public about the assault allegations in her 2018 book, “Anything for a Hit,” Carvello said many women in the music industry have shared with her their experiences of sexual assault.

“The overall theme is that the women are very afraid to come forward for fear of retribution,” she said. “I recently had a very, very big artist come forward and make a complaint but they are afraid, and I understand that and they have my empathy.”

Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Rosalia and Taylor Swift vie for the top spot in our critic’s list of the best albums of 2022.

Throughout the start of her career, Carvello said she worked low-paying, entry-level jobs in the music industry. The first in her family to attend college, Carvello said she sought a job in music with more stable pay and benefits, which she found at Atlantic Records.

After she was hired in 1987 as Morris and Ertegun’s assistant, the lawsuit alleges that Ertegun regularly grabbed her breasts and exposed himself to her and masturbated in front of her while dictating correspondence to her.

At the start of each day, Morris would lean in close to Carvello, touch her shoulders and kiss her without her consent, the complaint said. The suit also said both men would regularly comment on her breasts and legs.

Several incidents in which Ertegun grabbed at Carvello’s genitals left her bruised and cut, the lawsuit said. During another, Ertegun allegedly broke Carvello’s arm after slamming it against a table. The lawsuit said after Carvello reported the incident to Morris, he responded by saying, “What do you want me to do about it?”

A lawsuit filed by Taylor Swift fans accuses Ticketmaster of ‘purposefully mislead[ing] ticket purchasers’ during the Eras Tour pre-sale.

The complaint also alleged Ertegun and Morris both used corporate funds to pay settlements to people who accused the pair of sexual assault in exchange for signing nondisclosure agreements that promised silence.

Earlier this year, Carvello founded Face the Music Now Foundation, which aims to lift and stop the use of nondisclosure agreements “that silence survivors and allow abusers to continue their predatory behavior.”

In 2019, California enacted a law, known as the #MeToo law, which banned nondisclosure provisions in settlements involving claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination based on sex. And on Wednesday, President Biden signed a similar ban on the federal level.

Carvello says she understands why many survivors choose to remain silent. After speaking out, she said she had difficulty finding work in the industry. Although she was still able to work for major labels such as RCA and Columbia, she never regained the same level of influence she had at Atlantic where she worked as a talent scout finding artists for the label to sign.

From Alex G to Bailey Zimmerman, unknowns to superduperstars, pop-country to post-drill, these are our favorite bangers of 2022.

“I had to settle for lower-paying jobs, smaller companies and really kind of stay in the background,” Carvello said. “So yes, it was very difficult.”

Carvello said she hopes her lawsuit will bring about changes in the industry, such as safer avenues for people to report incidents of abuse without fear of retaliation, such as derailing their careers.

“It’s very hard to come forward with these types of complaints about sexual assault, it’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating,” Carvello said.

“It’s hard enough for anyone, and then to have the whole industry come down on you like a ton of bricks as a troublemaker, or you’re not going with the program, it shouldn’t be that way. “

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top