Lizzo has been sued by three former backup dancers for creating a hostile work environment and engaging in sexual harassment, among other allegations, in a lawsuit that was filed today that NBC News first reported on. The suit names Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson), her dance team captain Shirlene Quigley, and Lizzo’s production company Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. as the defendants.
The dancers involved in the suit are Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams — who competed on the reality show Watch Out For The Big Grrrls to join her cadre of backup dancers — and Noelle Rodriguez, who started dancing with Lizzo after appearing in the “Rumors” video. Davis and Williams were fired this spring, and Rodriguez resigned from her position shortly after.
The sexual harassment allegation stems from a trip to a club in Amsterdam that was taken after a tour date earlier this year, in which Lizzo allegedly pressured Davis, one of the dancers, to touch a nude performer, bullying her until she gave in and did so. The suit states that 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,” continuing: “Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women.”
“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,” the suit reads.
In addition to the claims of creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment, the suit includes allegations of religious and racial harassment, false imprisonment, and more — though those allegations do not apply to all defendants in the case.
In a statement provided to NBC, the dancers’ lawyer Ron Zambrano said: “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.”
Lizzo and her representatives have not publicly commented on the lawsuit. More details on the suit are here.