Lizzo Being Sued by Former Dancers

Three of Lizzo’s former dancers filed a lawsuit this week claiming that the pop star fostered a hostile work environment filled with sexual and religious harassment.

The plaintiffs, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez filed the lawsuit against Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and the dance captain on Lizzo’s team, Shirlene Quigley. Davis and Williams started working with star after they appeared on her show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, a dance competition show hosted by Lizzo.

The lawsuit detailed a few incidents of Lizzo exposing her team to questionable situations and borderline brutal conditions. One incident that was included in the lawsuit detailed a night out earlier this year at a club in Amsterdam that became too raunchy for the dancers’ comforts. Lizzo allegedly “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.” When Davis said no to touching one of the performers, she claims that Lizzo pressured her into it, also getting the performer to provoke her. Davis eventually gave into her boss’s pressure and was ultimately laughed at by everyone around her.

The same night, Lizzo allegedly also pressured a member of her security to get on stage, upon which Lizzo was yelling at them to “take it off!” The lawsuit states that “plaintiffs were aghast with how little regard Lizzo showed for the bodily autonomy of her employees and those around her, especially in the presence of many people whom she employed.”

Another incident detailed in the lawsuit was an “excruciating” 12-hour-long re-audition that Lizzo subjected her dancers to after accusing them all of drinking before their performances. During this re-audition, the threat of losing her job made Davis too scared to even ask to use the bathroom, causing her to soil herself. Williams allegedly had a “tense back and forth” with Lizzo the day after this incident when Williams brought the re-audition up in a meeting.

Less than a week after their “back and forth,” Williams was fired due to “budget cuts.” This past May, Davis was also fired. The lawsuit states that a month prior to her dismissal, Lizzo had a confrontational conversation with Davis about her “commitment,” which Davis ultimately interpreted and took as a “thinly veiled criticism of her weight.” Then, after Lizzo discovered that Davis had recorded performance notes, she let her go.

Rodriguez was the only one of the plaintiffs to have quit instead of being fired. The lawsuit states her rationale for quitting being the treatment by her teammates and religious harassment by Quigley, who “pushed her Christianity on dancers.” Rodriguez says that she was disregarded by her teammates; they pointed her out as being “one of the few members of the dance case who is not black” and claimed that she “was not painted with the same generalized and unfounded criticisms as the black members of the dance cast.” The suit admittedly states that Lizzo may not have been aware of Quigley’s religious harassment, but there were multiple complaints filed against Quigley to management, that Lizzo
would have seen, and none were ever addressed.

Ron Zambrano is the attorney representing the three former dancers. He made a statement about the lawsuit 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 even demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing.” Lizzo nor any of her team has released an official statement regarding the lawsuit yet.

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