Lizzo’s backup dancers file lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, fat-shaming

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Lizzo’s backup dancers file lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, fat-shaming
WATCH ABOVE: Ariana Davis, a former backup dancer alleging sexual harassment and fat-shaming against 'Lizzo' says if the singer was in a corporate office "there would be so many HR violations." – Aug 2, 2023

Three of Lizzo‘s former performers are suing the singer, alleging sexual harassment and accusing her of creating a hostile work environment. There are also accusations that Lizzo pressured one of them to interact with a nude performer against their will in Amsterdam, and that the pop superstar has shamed and degraded members of her staff based on their looks and weight.

The lawsuit, first reported on by NBC News, was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. It also names Lizzo’s production company, Big Grrrl Touring, Inc., and Shirlene Quigley, Lizzo’s dance team captain, as defendants.

The suit, filed by dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, alleges that the defendants created a hostile work environment through religious, sexual and racial harassment. It also alleges two separate lewd incidents involving a banana.

The dancers are suing for damages over emotional distress including unpaid wages, loss of earnings and lawyer’s fees.

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Lizzo performs in this undated photo. BBC Radio 1 / YouTube

According to NBC, which viewed the lawsuit, Quigley is accused of proselytizing other dancers and shaming those who had premarital sex, while also discussing lewd sexual fantasies, simulating oral sex and publicly discussing one of the plaintiffs’ virginity.

Lizzo is accused of making “thinly veiled” criticisms of Davis’s weight. The lawsuit alleges that the singer told Davis she seemed “less committed” to her role on the dance team, a comment Davis believes was based on her size.

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The most shocking accusations, however, come from February of this year, when the group was touring in Amsterdam and made a post-show visit to a strip club.

The lawsuit alleges that while Lizzo routinely hosted non-mandatory afterparties, those who attended were often treated better by the singer and were granted more job security.

At the club, called Bananenbar, Lizzo “began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas,” the suit says. “Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women.”

At first, the suit says, Davis declined, but Lizzo was allegedly adamant and began a chant that eventually became so loud and raucous that Davis gave in and touched the performer. There are also allegations that Lizzo pressured a member of her security team to take the stage and was yelling at the employee, “Take it off.”

The plaintiffs claim that, just a month later, Lizzo, 35, deceived them once again into attending a nude show in Paris, thereby “robbing them of the choice not to participate,” Jezebel reports.

Davis also alleges that at one point she was forced to “soil herself” on stage during an “excruciating” re-audition, “fearing the repercussions” of excusing herself to go to the restroom.

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The dancers behind the lawsuit all began working with Lizzo in 2021. Davis and Williams joined Lizzo’s dance crew for the Amazon reality series Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. Rodriguez was hired after appearing in Lizzo’s 2021 Rumors video.

Williams was let go from the crew in April of this year, shortly after getting into an argument with Lizzo, but says she was told she was let go because of “budget cuts.” Davis claims she was fired a month later, in May, after Lizzo discovered she had made an audio recording of performance notes she’d been given.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, said she publicly quit the team in solidarity with teammates who were being treated poorly.

Pitchfork reports the lawsuit claims that Lizzo, after hearing Rodriguez’s resignation, “approached Ms. Rodriguez aggressively, yelling profanities, cracking her knuckles, and balling her fists apparently preparing herself (to) attack.” Lizzo allegedly yelled, “You’re so f—ing lucky” and was pulled away. Rodriguez is suing Lizzo for assault over this incident.

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“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,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano, said in a statement provided to media.

Lizzo, her production company and Quigley have not responded to requests for comment or issued statements addressing the allegations or the lawsuit.

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