Lizzo and her production company are facing a lawsuit from three of the team’s former tour dancers that contain accusations of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
According to NBCNews, the suit names Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and Shirlene Quigley, the dance team’s captain, as defendants.
In the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez have alleged that Lizzo pushed the dancers to touch one of the performers at a sex show in Amsterdam, in addition to calling “attention” to Davis’ weight following a set at South by Southwest.
“In professional dance, a dancer’s weight gain is often seen as that dancer getting lazy or worse off as a performer,” the lawsuit states. “Lizzo’s and [Tanisha] Scott’s questions about Ms. Davis’s commitment to the tour were thinly veiled concerns about Ms. Davis’s weight gain, which Lizzo had previously called attention to after noticing it at the South by Southwest music festival.”
The suit also reads, “Although Lizzo and Ms. Scott never explicitly stated it, these questions accompanied by Lizzo’s statements made after the South by Southwest music festival gave Ms. Davis the impression that she needed to explain her weight gain and disclose intimate personal details about her life in order to keep her job.”
In a statement to Billboard, the dancers’ attorney Ron Zambrano spoke to the character of the accused, saying, “The stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly, while privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing.”
Thursday, August 4, Lizzo issued a statement via her Twitter account regarding this lawsuit. “I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days,” the singer wrote.
“I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this,” she continued. “I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”
Lizzo, who has received four Grammys and a Primetime Emmy Award for Watch Out for the Big Grrrls in 2022, is set to perform at Philadelphia’s Made In America festival in September.
A representative for Lizzo commented on Tuesday’s news.