Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s abrupt exit from the top job at Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records followed a claim by a female assistant alleging “unlawful harassment of an employee,” sources tell Billboard.
Sources said the claim prompted a company investigation into his conduct. The labels he has run have included Epic, Universal Music Group’s Island/Def Jam and LaFace Records, which was co-founded by Reid in 1989 and eventually absorbed into Sony.
In a letter to Sony, the claimant’s attorney detailed alleged harassment his client had faced on a daily basis, including alleged inappropriate remarks about her appearance and clothing and alleged propositions that caused her embarrassment and distress, making it impossible for her to continue working at the label. The letter — the contents of which were relayed to Billboard — threatened litigation if a settlement wasn’t reached. It wasn’t clear if Sony’s investigation had confirmed any of the letter’s allegations, and one person in Reid's camp said the letter contained inaccuracies. A lawyer for Reid declined to comment. The claimant and her lawyer declined to comment.
Reid’s departure is the second high-profile exit at Sony since Columbia Records chairman/CEO Rob Stringer took over as CEO of Sony April 1. Last month Sony said Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) would leave the CEO role at its Kemosabe Records amid the hit-maker’s protracted legal battle with singer-songwriter Kesha, who sued Dr. Luke three years ago in New York court for alleged sexual abuse. Dr. Luke has denied the charges and sued Kesha for defamation, claims that are still pending.
Reid, 60, was the only current black label CEO at the three major record companies, and had rebuilt Epic into a high-profile generator of pop and urban-leaning hits, from artists such as Meghan Trainor, Future, Fifth Harmony, Travi$ Scott and DJ Khaled, who currently has the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2016, Reid relocated the label from New York to Los Angeles, and into new Culver City headquarters. A lawyer for Reid declined to comment. The claimant and her lawyer declined to comment.