Atlantic Records and its founder Ahmet Ertegun are the subjects of a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct. Jan Roeg, a talent scout who worked with the record label between the ’80s and mid-2000s, claims Ertegun sexually assaulted and harassed her numerous times, with Atlantic Records failing to handle the situation appropriately, reports Rolling Stone. Since Ertegun died in 2006, Roeg’s lawsuit names the record label and his estate as defendants.
Furthermore, the suit alleges that the first time Jan met Ertegun, he placed his hands up her clothing, touching her “backside and upper thigh close to her vaginal area” as she bent over. Roeg claimed he followed up his unwanted advances with compliments, telling her,” ‘you have nice legs’ and ‘you’re a very good-looking woman,’ to which the talent scout responded by attempting to get away from Atlantic’s founder.
From her first meeting with Ertegun, Roeg’s suit alleges that he assaulted her several more times. She stated that on one occasion, she went back with him to his home after a business dinner to grab some cocaine before heading to a club.
The talent scout went to the bathroom, and when she opened the door, the head honcho was seen “masturbating” and demanding the woman to “show me your tits.” Again, Roeg attempted to escape but Ahmet grabbed her, pinned her against the wall, and masturbated until he “soiled her shirt.” On another occasion, the founder allegedly tried to make her forcibly give him oral sex.
Another highlighted incident dates back to 1986 when her boss allegedly stormed into her room during a business trip, jumped onto her bed, and inserted his fingers in her vagina and anus without consent. Four years later, during dinner in 1990, Roeg’s suit claims that the tycoon drugged her, prompting her to get a stomach pump after passing out “in the restaurant’s bathroom.”
And, according to Roeg, Atlantic Records was complicit in every highlighted incident of sexual assault and harassment she faced. She asserts that Atlantic was “aware” of Ertegun’s behavior and “actively enabled it.”
The lawsuit states that the label “took a laissez faire approach to sexual misconduct, misogynistic and hostile sexual attitudes towards women, and harassment of women in its offices, with a culture of abuse that has become famous in music business history.”
She also claims that Atlantic didn’t properly educate employees on workplace-appropriate behavior.
“Atlantic utterly failed to engage in training or implementation of any policies or standards that would inform employees of the company’s disapproval of and how to report such conduct,” the lawsuit said, “much less anything that would dissuade employees from engaging in sexual misconduct on their premises or while on business trips and dealing with business partners for the Label.”
“As Ms. Roeg shows in her Complaint,” Wigdor LLP partner Lawrence M. Pearson began his statement. “The ‘sex, drugs, and Rock n’ Roll’ culture in the music industry at companies like Atlantic Records was taken as license by powerful men like Ahmet Ertegun to engage in sexual assault and other abuse of women.”
“Now, Ms. Roeg and other survivors of sexual assault who in past years were forced into silence due to the threat of retaliation or loss of their careers can get justice under the Adult Survivors Act. Ms. Roeg and we look forward to holding the Defendants accountable and finally getting some relief for her pain over the years.”
Ahmet Ertegun is heralded as one of the most influential and important music executives in American music history, signing Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin and helping shape the careers of John Coltrane, Ray Charles, and more.
Ertegun also co-founded and established the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.