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Former Dancers for Lizzo Accuse Her of Sexual Harassment, Weight-Shaming & a ‘Hostile Work Environment'
Four-time Grammy-winner Lizzo and her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., have been issued a lawsuit by a trio of the artist’s former dancers.
A bombshell lawsuit has landed in Lizzo’s lap. On Tuesday (August 1), a trio of the artist’s former dancers filed a legal complaint at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Per Variety, named alongside Lizzo, born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, are her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), and Shirlene Quigley, captain of Lizzo’s dance team.
Plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez allege that sexual, religious, racial and disability discrimination were used against them, along with assault and false imprisonment, in addition to other charges.
One section of the suit alleges that the dancers were pressured to touch nude dancers at a lewd show in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, out of fear of losing their jobs. The area is known for its prostitution, sex theaters, nude bars and nightclubs.
“The main event of the night was a club called Bananenbar, where patrons are allowed to interact with completely nude performers,” the lawsuit reads. “While at Bananenbar, things quickly got out of hand. 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. Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club. Lizzo began leading a chant goading Ms. Davis. Ms. Davis said three times, loud enough for all to hear, ‘I’m good,’ expressing her desire not to touch the performer.”
It continues, “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.”
Plaintiffs also allege that prior to the incident, Jefferson failed to inform them that they’d be attending a nude cabaret bar – “robbing them of the choice not to participate,” the lawsuit adds.
Jefferson is also alleged to have called out Davis’s weight gain at the music festival South by Southwest, accusing her of not being committed to the role. “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,” the lawsuit states.
Additionally, the lawsuit says that Davis was fired in May for recording a meeting where Jefferson gave notes to dancers about their performances. Williams also claims that she was publicly fired due to budget cuts, although no other dancers were fired on the same day as her. Prior to the termination, Williams says she had spoken up at a meeting where Jefferson accused dancers of drinking before performances.
Elsewhere the lawsuit accuses Quigley, who was also a judge on Jefferson’s Prime Video show Watch Out for the Big Grrrls of pressuring dancers to hear her Christian beliefs. According to the lawsuit, after Quigley discovered that Davis was a virgin, the dance captain discussed it in interviews and even posted about it on social media.
Jefferson’s fourth studio album, Special, was released last July. Last month, the Detroit native wrapped up her global tour.
As of publication, representatives for Lizzo and Quigley have not made a public response to the filing of the lawsuit.
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