Will the Dutch have to pay out Daniele Gatti’s full contract?

The Italian conductor was appointed music director of the Concertgebouw in 2014 and started work two years later.

By normal procedures, his contract would have been up for renegotiation in 2018. According to inside sources, it may have been renewed as recently as a few weeks ago. We have been unable to confirm these reports, but talks will certainly have started.

Gatti will not go quietly. He was fired unilaterally and seemingly without warning. That means lawyers can claim the full value of his unexpired contract. The new contract.

 

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  • It’s getting like football managers, sacked with millions left in their contract. But football clubs are richer than orchestras, and the latter should perhaps check the legal niceties?

  • I had the impression that #metoo-kind-of thing could become very expensive. We’ll see what comes of it.

  • Much better that DG gets paid to go away (quietly or kicking and screaming) than to continue subjecting female musicians to the humiliation and degradation (and crime) of sexual harassment. But really, the situation should have its day in court.

    • Indeed. But I doubt he will go to court, as he knows there would be a good number of women who could testify against him…

    • Not so eager, easy, even the public statement of Concertgebouw did not speak of ‚sexual harassment‘. but of ‚inappropriate behaviour‘ for someone in his position.
      If they had anything serious, like assault, they would have said so.

      • Er…no, that isn’t true. Most of the time Human Resources will boot the person out without explaining exactly what the “crime” was (it is between the two parties and nobody else is entitled to know). But “inappropriate behaviour” would be something that one can be fired for, and you would not be entitled to compensation for the contract if you have been fired for “inappropriate behaviour”.

        Gatti can try to go to court to get compensation. But so long as the Concertgebouw followed a reasonable disciplinary procedure, then he will win precisely nothing (and will be liable for costs).

  • Two thoughts occur to me:

    (a) It might be worth the money.

    (b) If he fights, they can fight back – i.e., go public with whatever information they’ve got that led to their decision.

    • The accuser may not wish to go public.

      And for any organisation to throw unproven allegations our into the public sphere, could be a legal minefield.

      • “Unproven allegations” can still be considered evidence (if it goes to a trial).

        And maybe/ probably not every accuser will want to go public, but perhaps at least one will. Not sure what privacy rights in the EU look like compared to the US, but there is probably a way to present the evidence in a way that keeps the identity of the accuser(s) from becoming public while still meeting legal requirements for admissibility.

  • Do we know that Gatti was fired without warning? Was he given an opportunity to resign which he refused?

    With the grave allegations made, does the orchestra have a choice about keeping him? Can orchestra continue if its highly visible figurehead, rightly or wrongly, is associated with sexual assault or harassment?

    I listened to a radio broadcast out of Cleveland in which Anne Midgette, a co-author of the WP article, said that 53 people contacted the paper. (It put out widely distributed social media calls for reports about sexual assault and harassment.) She later clarified that “some of them had stories about more than one perpetrator, and some of them spoke about the same perpetrators; we didn’t necessarily have 53 perpetrators identified.”

    Whatever the number, there must have been many alleged abusers reported to the paper, but it only included reports about four. And of those, one had already been the subject of a large report about sexual harassment 11 years ago, and another had already lost his job due to allegations so it wasn’t new news. That left only two completely new reports that resulted out of 53 contacts.

    One cannot say the paper was incautious.

    Arts organizations are now lining up to say they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and harassment, so what does the WP’s vague 53 to 3 ratio say about that? It suggests that most incidents will still not be acted upon. And given the difficulties of the issue, no one has a solution.

    In the end, the Concertgebauw will have to pay a large sum to a person who, if the allegations are correct, is very undeserving of the money.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I believe that in the EU civil cases do not require clear and convincing proof as in criminal court. A jury can return a judgment if facts or events were more likely than not to have occurred. Under these circumstances, Gatti might have some problems.

    The Title IX laws in the USA are built around the preponderance of evidence concept which allows for more discerning judgments than criminal courts. This has been enormously helpful for universities trying to reduce sexual assault and harassment on campuses. But again, I note that I am not a lawyer. These are simply a layman’s thoughts.

    • Some more problems to consider. How often can we expect big media like the WP to focus on abuse in classical music? Will the WP report remain an anomaly? Will big media only respond when it can ride a wave like the MeToo movement?

      Should there be at least two corroborating victims willing to go on record for action to be taken? If so, how do we deal with the-first-time-is-free situation?

      Abusers are often adept at spotting victims who are the most vulnerable and who won’t talk, thus further decreasing the chances of corroborating reports. The WP’s vague ratio of 53 to 3 mentioned above is a long way from zero-tolerance no matter how it’s glossed. How do we move beyond that status quo? Suggestions anyone?

      • William, as always, thank you for sharing the detailed knowledge you have. This helps to put things in perspective. It’ll be interesting and distressing to see what comes of this.

      • This may seem so easy to say, but I believe that it is the right action. It is hard to do when you are feeling vulnerable but it is the best way.

        It would have been difficult in the past but nowadays:-

        Find the courage to speak up. Report any serious abuse, or a person who won’t take “no” for an answer straight away and go public if the organisation that it happens in does not act immediately. Get things in writing!

        Go to the police or law enforcement for any criminal abuse (not the press) and seek out anyone else that may have been subject to mistreatment by the abuser.

        Organisations who fear bad publicity, might try to protect their senior person and attempt to sweep it under the carpet but today they KNOW that if an official complaint is made and the authorities investigate they will have to explain their actions and have no excuses!

    • William, you said it yourself. It’s the EU. It’s a publicly funded orchestra. It’s not a civil case, as I understand it. In my experience, EU labor laws are strict and unforgiving and more often than not will favor the employee.

      • I believe the government can be brought to civil cases. This is a contractual matter, not a criminal case. In Germany, for example, it would be before a labor court which is a specialized civil court.

      • I don’t know how it works in Europe, but in the US the music director is generally not an employee, but an independent contractor. So presumably different protections than for an employee, including, most likely, clauses about personal behavior or bringing the orchestra into disrepute, which his continued engagement presumably would.

    • True, William. I agree about the labor court, and this not being a criminal case, but I’m not convinced that an EU labor court might be any less stringent in requiring proof. I’d think that since this a high profile situation they would be inclined to do so.

      My take is that this is something they will negotiate out of court. A settlement, yes, but I don’t think he’ll get his full contract paid out. Concertgebouw has leverage with the accusations of these women. I seriously do not think Gatti would want to go to court to fight this and would accept much less to avoid it.

      • Concertgebouw’s leverage depends very much on the substance of said accusations. It’s a very wide grey zone. We don’t know what these accusations actually are. But we can conjure from the management’s statement, that it not very grave, otherwise they would have used stronger words than just:

        “inappropriate for a chief conductor… damaging trust…”

        Considering the damage to Gatti’s reputation on top of the loss of contractual work, Concertgebouw better has a very strong case in any court of law.

  • Is there any evidence to support this, or is this speculation?
    Either way, any word on whether there was a good morals/good behaviour/good reputation clause in the contract (i.e., a clause allowing for firing in case of behaviour bringing the orchestra into disrepute)?

  • The RCO women who emerged with their complaints after the WaPo article came out could have come out before the RCO extended Gatti’s contract.

    Did they not come out because they thought 1) the problem was not a problem? 2) management would not believe them? 3) management would do nothing? 4) Gatii would retaliate? 5) the rest of the orchestra would turn against them?

    Whatever the reason, it’s management’s fault because they allowed the culture to exist where all 5 fears above could exist.

    Management made their bed, now they have to lie in it. (So to speak!)

    In any case, it’s going to be Gatti’s last long-term employment contract, so enjoy your 4 years of paid vacation.

    • Can you imagine what a Music Director could do to a woman in his orchestra who’d accuse him of something like this? Just think about it.

      I know no one involved here but it’s clear that the Concertgebouw women could come forward only after the allegations came out in the US, from another source, and only as a group, to avoid professional repercussions.

      • Isn’t the reality we are talking about actually the opposite of what you are saying?
        I reworded your sentence:

        “Can you imagine what a woman could do to a Music Director in an orchestra who’d accuse him of something like this? Just think about it.”

        It goes at least both ways apparently.

        q.e.d.

    • Does it matter a bit? Those are moral questions, not legal or contractual ones.
      Or did he have a clause in his contract, that any violation of the Ten Commandments means breach of contract?

  • Concertgebouw’s lawyers should argue that he was in violation of his contract doing whatever it was he did with these women.

    It’s also not just Concertgebouw’s call here. Isn’t it a publicly funded orchestra? Isn’t his salary primarily paid by the govt.? There must be legislation in place regarding a contract violation of this type.

    It’s not the US. It’s not just a private orch. board/administration he’s up against. This is a publicly funded orchestra and he answers to the taxpayers and government of the Netherlands. No way are they going to overlook alleged behavior such as this. And I’d imagine that both the orch. and the govt. will bring forth plenty of lawyers of their own to avoid paying out his contract.

    It may have to go to court to prove the allegations. If there’s any doubt, sure, there may be a negotiation, a compromise. But I seriously doubt that they will pay him out for the full contract.

  • What happened in Amsterdam in three weeks for the Concertgebouw to move from a four-year contract to a dismissal? The Washington Post report. Nothing else as far as we know.

    • Concertgebouw’s own female players came out with their own accusations, for one.

      Secondly, Gatti hired a “Reputation Doctor” publicist who issued that ridiculous statement about apologizing to “every woman I’ve ever met in my life”. What a desperate move. Would an innocent man have said that?

    • Just forget it Pedro! Does not matter any civilized notion of justice. No one claim for an investigation by authorities, and a judgement by the court. Everyone just want to lynch someone after any accusation. It’s been like it since the beginning of times, but now people found a good excuse, similar to the holy wars.
      They will attack even us, because we just want a proper verification, judgement and punishment according to the law. Or defending one of the basic statement of any legal system: No one can be considered guilty, before the proper judge ruled.
      Nevermind! It is more safe

    • I know from at least one female player in the RCO, ostensibly married and ringed, that she was approached in an inappropriate way more than once and felt very uncomfortable as a result at the rehearsels. Probably there have been more of such occasions.

      • Yes, maybe unpleasant. Morally inappropriate. But legally relevant? What exactly happened? He asked her for a date? He suggested to her to show her his stamp collection? It might be morally wrong what he did. But legally only relevant in countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran.

        But then, this is the year 2018 in the west. Donald Trump is President of the US. The so called “free” world is not what it used to be.

        • Tamino: please, stop being an idiot. If you are the boss you can not harass your employees for sex when at work. If you do that, you get fired.

          And you are seriously confused: there is a difference between something that is criminal (which goes to court), and behaviour that you shouldn’t do because you will lose your job (which does not go to court and for which there is no criminal sanction). Almost all firms have disciplinary procedures which have nothing to do with the criminal courts.

  • This discussion here is obscene and ridiculous.
    A bunch of people who know apparently nothing about what really happened reserve final judgement. How retarded and vile.

    • Tamino, I’ve agreed with you in the past about inappropriate discussions by posters, but this time I don’t see it.

      We know very little. People, naturally, are speculating. No one is insulting anyone, or posting vulgarities. From what I can see, this is a civil discussion among readers about the question Norman posed.

      On the contrary, I am offended by your use of the word “retarded”. It is a term which is no longer acceptable.

      • Sorry if the word ‘retarded’ offends you, but it is a word with a meaning and can be used as such. I mean, that those people who engage not only in speculation but come to judgements and engage in exaggerations to please their voyeuristic/narcissistic/envious egos, expose symptoms of mental retardation.

        I’m not meaning to ignore any accusations against DG, but people must understand the difference between an accusation and a proven case. It destroys lives, to ignore that crucial difference.

        • Of course “retarded” has meaning. It is an insult that 13 year olds used, perhaps 20 years ago. It is no longer used in polite society because it is pejorative to the mentally handicapped. It is outdated and extremely rude.

          • I respect your opinion, but I reserve to use the word freely and based on its original (latin) meaning, ‘retardare’. I’m aware there might be a cultural difference between America and Europe concerning the social acceptance of this word today.

          • People do understand the difference between accusations and a proven case. But the courts can only get to work if somebody accuses. As with every other crime.

    • Let’s just get one little thing cleared up. Those of you who would get your knickers in a bunch over the usage and meaning of “retarded” as an adjective or insult, are, in fact, retarded. Clearly a case of too much time on your hands (like myself).

    • Considering the number of comments starting with “If true/ Do we know if…” etc., I would hardly say that commenters are reserving final judgment. (Well, one or two are, but not most; and by your use of the word “apparently” you acknowledge that they might know something.)

  • The RCO should not even pay 1 penny out of the remainder of Gatti’s contract. They should use the money to hire a vastly superior woman conductor such as Karina, Mirga, Hannigan, Gemma, Alondra etc.

    • Alondra de la Parra is one of the worst conductors one can imagine.
      And you probably never attended a concert conducted by Gatti or one of his master classes if you’re of the opinion that any of these women is better than him.
      Gatti is one of the greats.

      • “Conducting Feminista” is a troll and he is male. He is making fun of us and this situation with his ridiculous comments. Just ignore him.

      • Ironically, last sunday there was this broadcast on Dutch national TV of Gatti conducting Debussy, and that was a superb concert, he is a true sorcerer of colour and tender nuance, these were thoroughly sensual interpretations. Maybe that is why… etc.

        Later on the same day, a German station broadcast an experimental TV movie about terrible things happening during an orchestral concert, involving poisoning, belated war trauma, revenche, Jewishness, erotic entanglements, throwing-up, holocaust music, and haute bourgeois anxieties. For some people, classical music appears to offer more than just music.

  • Daniel Gatti has to fight this obscene decision ! It’s scandalous to sack a talented conductor on mere allegations and without even warning him !

    • What has shifted… not legal issues but a pervasive culture of acceptance and tolerance of senior people who have habits of sexual aggression. No we are not talking about flirting but far more serious touching and control issues. “You want the first desk salary? We can talk over drinks in my hotel room.”
      Also anyone in the business knows that an orchestra or opera is like extended family and everyone knows who drinks too much, can’t tune his instrument properly or groops you in the hall. Both performers and staff know and it is often the “major stars” who have previously got a pass. The bassoon player would get disciplined. But everyone at the Met, for instance, knew about James Levine’s “tendencies” but, since it had been tolerated since the beginning… It’s been too long but finally times are changing and the overdue housecleaning in in full swing.

  • Would it be possible for Gatti to sue any conductor who accepts to replace him in his scheduled Concertgebouw concerts for complicity with the organisation? Maybe that’s the reason why no names have been announced so far.

  • Burn, baby, burn. The Concertgebouw was clearly looking for an out – now they’ve got it. As the old proverbial saying goes: you’ve made your bed, now lie in it. Unfortunately for all, that saying may go both ways.

  • I bet that not a single conductor will accept to replace Gatti. He or she could easily be sued by him. The Concertgebouw has put itself in a very big problem. Times are good for their – and for the conductors’ – lawyers.

    • I’m leaning that way too, but I also know it’s ridiculous to judge before any of us know with any certainty, what has truly transpired – especially in regards to women within the Concertgebouw.

  • What a load of bizarre nonsense in the remarks section.

    Gatti was fired for inappropriate behaviour, after an internal investigation, and (presumably) disciplinary hearing. He almost certainly had the accusations put to him (hence his absurd public statement about “respecting women”). So, he was given an opportunity to present his case and he still got fired.

    Whatever is published in the Washington Post is irrelevant to the decision to fire him. The decision to fire him rests entirely on his behaviour at the RCO. Moreover, the fact that the RCO has no effect on the situation.

    Neither party are under any obligation to tell anyone else the reason Gatti got fired. The only person who needs to be told is Gatti (normally the complainants would not be told, let alone anyone else). However, if he was harassing the women in the orchestra, then this would constitute reasonable grounds to end his employment. (And no, there doesn’t need to be an explicit morals clause in his contract).

    If Gatti wants to take this to court, then he will have to show the disciplinary process was unreasonable. It will be a civil case so “preponderance of evidence” applies. He will have to show the accusation(s) either are not credible, or not serious. The people making accusations will not need to go to court to have their evidence challenged (they probably don’t even need to be identified); the RCO do not have to show the accusations are true, just that they are credible; Gatti will have to show the evidence is not credible. He may well be liable for costs if he loses.

    Given he was fired for misconduct, he will not be entitled to any compensation whatsoever. Sometimes, however, employers will offer some money for the fired employee to go quietly (and agree a “gagging order”). I very much doubt Gatti got this kind of offer.

  • And another thing. Gatti, nor Levine, nor Dutoit are exactly irreplaceable as conductors. In 2015 Bachtrack named the top 10 conductors as:

    Chailly, Rattle, Jansons, Nelsons, Muti, Barenboim, K.Petrenko, Salonen, Nezet-Seguin, Thielemann.

    while another important classical publication named the top 10 as:

    Muti, Barenboim, Jansons, Thielemann, Chailly, Rattle, Nelsons, Nézet-Séguin, Dudamel, K.Petrenko

    Personally, I don’t think artistic talent can excuse vile behaviour, but even if it could, these conductors (Levine, Gatti and Dutoit) are not particularly special, and we can easily find equally talented conductors to conduct their concert programmes.

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