Former R&S Records employee Raji Rags sues label and CEO Renaat Vandepapeliere
R&S Records and its co-founder and CEO Renaat Vandepapeliere have had a case filed against them by former employee Raj Chaudhuri, aka Raji Rags, citing unlawful dismissal and racial discrimination, Resident Advisor reports.
Chaudhuri worked as a freelance talent scout and A&R for R&S between May 2019 and September 2020. Following the reported agreement of a one-year deal made in July 2020, Chaudhuri claims he was unlawfully dismissed by Vandepapeliere on 29th September.
In October, Chaudhuri shared a statement on social media, explaining that he was no longer working for the label and that he was “not comfortable with working with Renaat Vandepapeliere and putting energy into a company that doesn’t support Black and women artists sufficiently”.
Chaudhuri reportedly filed a Particulars Of Claim with the UK employment tribunal on January 21st 2021. In a 40-page document seen by Resident Advisor and the BBC, Chaudhuri reportedly describes multiple instances of alleged “discrimination, harassment, victimisation and post-employment victimisation” by Vandepapeliere, as well as his claim of unlawful dismissal. These claims are reportedly supported by screenshots of messages and emails between himself and Vandepapeliere.
Chaudhuri later wrote to Vandepapeliere asking to be financially compensated for the ten months’ worth of lost wages due to his alleged unlawful dismissal.
A response shared with Resident Advisor on behalf of Vandepapeliere and R&S Records Limited, stated:
“We have not had an opportunity to prepare our case yet, as the claim has not even been served on us, but given the negative and premature publicity, we feel we have no option but to respond.
“Mr. Chaudhuri has been reported to the police which we believe will fall under extortion and blackmail under the Theft Act 1968. On the 29th September, he emailed Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere saying that he would ‘destroy’ him publicly unless he was paid £10,000 for potential future work that never happened.
“Mr. Chaudhuri was a freelancer who became disgruntled and was fired due to reasons that would fall under gross misconduct if he had been an employee.”
The statement continues: “Mr. Vandepapeliere is certainly not racist and everyone at R&S Records embraces equality. We are currently taking our own advice on separately pursuing a defamation claim in respect of these spurious, untruthful and damaging allegations.”
The full response made on R&S behalf can be read below.
Chaudhuri’s claims include multiple alleged incidents of racism and sexism from Vandepapeliere. Chaudhuri also reportedly states that he found it difficult to get Vandepapeliere to support his attempts to “diversify the label”, or to approve signing music from Black or women artists. The first signings Chaudhuri made, reportedly during a time when Vandepapeliere was taking time off from the label, included non-white artists from Ghana, Pakistan, Portugal and Democratic Republic Of Congo. He alleges that Vandepapeliere did not like the music, and described it as “meaningless”.
Another alleged incident cited in Chaudhuri’s claim involves Vandepapeliere’s attitude toward women. In November 2019 Vandepapeliere allegedly sent Chaudhuri an Instagram post asking him to rate three topless women.
Further incidences cited in Chaudhuri’s claim include Vandepapeliere’s alleged denial of techno’s Black roots, and an alleged refusal to remove the music of Colombian artist Santiago Niño Rodriguez, aka Hermetics — who released the ‘Technosis’ EP on R&S in 2018 — from the label’s catalogue, after anti-Semitic posts from 2015 and 2016 resurfaced online. Further details of these alleged incidents can be found in RA’s report.
Chaudhuri alleges that his employment with R&S was terminated without warning on 29th September, shortly after R&S terminated its contract with LA-based artist Eddington Again, who publicised their dispute with Vandepapeliere some days before. In a series of posts shared to social media at the time, Eddington Again, a Black artist who released an EP on R&S imprint Apollo Records in 2019, outlined an “ongoing dispute” with the label relating to “incorrect splits on late royalty statements”, while also sharing screenshots of email exchanges in which they challenged Vandepapeliere on the lack of women and POC artists on the label. In his responses published on social media by Eddington Again, Vandepapeliere said “I don’t sign color mate” and stated of a recently signed Black artist: “I hope that I have now found a full pure breed black artist that I can spend my life with in full focus”. Vandepapeliere later issued an apology for his remarks.
Vandepapeliere’s comments faced criticism from within the dance music community, including from a number of artists signed to R&S. His use of the phrase “pure breed black artist”, and his claim that the label doesn’t “sign color”, have been labelled as racist, and dismissive of wider concerns surrounding racism within the industry. Artists including Paul Woolford, Forest Drive West and Lone subsequently ended their relationships with the label.
After being confronted by Chaudhuri (who reportedly suggested via text that Vandepapeliere “step down” from his “responsibilities” and work “creatively behind the scenes”) following this incident, Vandepapeliere reportedly told him he had “crossed the line”. The following day, September 29th, Vandepapeliere allegedly dismissed Chaudhuri with immediate effect and no prior warning. “I cannot work longer without a strong team standing for the company,” he allegedly wrote.
Speaking to RA, Chaudhuri said: “I was devastated to lose my job…It was particularly galling to be fired for doing the right thing and trying to get him to do the right thing. I was also on the brink of bringing newfound success and credibility to the label on the back of the diversified artists I was in the process of signing.”
A date is yet to be set for the tribunal hearing.
Response to RA on behalf of Vandepapeliere and R&S Records Limited:
We have not had an opportunity to prepare our case yet, as the claim has not even been served on us, but given the negative and premature publicity, we feel we have no option but to respond.
Mr. Chaudhuri has been reported to the police which we believe will fall under extortion and blackmail under the Theft Act 1968. On the 29th September, he emailed Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere saying that he would “destroy” him publicly unless he was paid £10,000 for potential future work that never happened.
Mr. Chaudhuri was a freelancer who became disgruntled and was fired due to reasons that would fall under gross misconduct if he had been an employee.
Mr. Chaudhuri has submitted a tribunal case which in its own right proves nothing. We believe Mr Chaudhuri has done this in order to attack Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere in an attempt to sway him away from other legal proceedings and cause the malicious damage that he threatened unless Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere gave into his monetary demands.
Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere is certainly not racist and everyone at R&S Records embraces equality. We are currently taking our own advice on separately pursuing a defamation claim in respect of these spurious, untruthful and damaging allegations. There is simply no truth in anything he says or the allegations that Mr Chaudhuri has made. We have no intention of litigating this in the press and have every confidence that justice will prevail.