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Lizzo is Being Sued By Ex-Dancers for Alleged Sexual Harassment and Creating a Toxic Work Environment


On Tuesday, August 1, allegations emerged from three former dancers who were part of Lizzo’s The Special Tour. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, has named Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc, and her dance captain, Shirlene Quigley, in accusations of sexual, religious, racial, and ableist discrimination.

The details were reported by NBC News, naming the plaintiffs, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez.

Harassment and discrimination claims

One of the allegations involves a visit to Bananenbar, a club in Amsterdam, after a performance in the city earlier this year. The suit states that while Lizzo’s afterparties were not mandatory, those in attendance were favored by the singer, which potentially influenced job security.

At the club, Lizzo allegedly pressured the cast, including Davis, to physically touch nude performers. When Davis hesitated, the singer reportedly initiated a chant that became increasingly strident until Davis reluctantly complied, resulting in the group’s laughter.

The suit also mentioned that Davis was coerced into a photo shoot, despite her discomfort. The lawsuit suggests that complying with Lizzo’s request was presented as a prerequisite to stay in a dance competition, leaving Davis feeling fearful of losing her job if she refused.

Moreover, there were claims of weight and race-motivated harassment stemming from when the former dancers asked to be compensated for downtime at 50% of their weekly pay. An accountant allegedly offered only 25%, scolding them for being “unacceptable and disrespectful.” The lawsuit notes that this exclusively affected the dance cast, comprised of full-figured women of color.

After an appearance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival, both Lizzo and Quigley told Davis she seemed “less committed” to her role, attributing the cause of concern about Davis’ weight.

Religious discrimination allegations are also aimed at Shirlene Quigley, Lizzo’s dance captain, who is accused of preaching her religious beliefs to coworkers and publicly discussing the sexual activity of performers, specifically one of the plaintiffs.


Events during rehearsals and meetings

The lawsuit described an incident in which Williams was terminated because she disagreed with Lizzo over whether she and other dancers were drinking on the job. According to the statement, the day before Williams was terminated, the dancers were subjected to an “excruciating” 12-hour rehearsal, during which Davis felt so anxious about using the restroom that she soiled herself. Despite her condition, Davis was allegedly given a see-through outfit without undergarments to continue the performance.

Recordings and false imprisonment allegations

On April 27, Davis, who reportedly suffers from an eye condition that causes disorientation in stressful situations, recorded a team meeting. The suit alleges that days after this, Lizzo held an emergency meeting and had security employees confiscate dancers’ phones. The singer allegedly “became furious, hurling expletives at the group and stated that she was going to go around the room, person-by-person until someone told Lizzo who made the recording.”

Though Davis admitted to the recording, Lizzo’s security team kept her against her will while they searched through her phone. Davis was subsequently fired and the suit claims “false imprisonment.”


Dismissals and resignations

Before Lizzo left the meeting on April 27, Rodriguez told the singer she felt disrespected and would resign, the suit says. Lizzo allegedly responded with balled fists and slurs before Rodriguez handed in her resignation.

Five days after the 12-hour audition/rehearsal, Lizzo’s tour manager allegedly fired Williams in a hotel lobby, with the reason attributed to budget cuts. The lawsuit notes that no one else was fired at that time.

As of this writing, none of the defendants have publicly addressed the allegations. The accusations against Lizzo are particularly concerning due to her prominent advocacy for body positivity and self-acceptance. Fans and observers are grappling with the dissonance between her public image and the serious accusations made by the former dancers.

Currently, Lizzo is featured in the Barbie soundtrack for her song, “Pink”, and has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) for Lizzo: Live in Concert.

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