Lizzo has requested a judge dismiss the lawsuit filed last month against her by three of her former dancers.
The lawsuit filed by Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez accused the Grammy winner of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment — accusations Lizzo’s legal team vehemently denies in a new legal document filed on the evening of September 27.
“This is the first step of a legal process in which Lizzo and her team will demonstrate that they have always practised what they’ve preached – whether it comes to promoting body positivity, leading a safe and supportive workplace or protecting individuals from any kind of harassment,” said a spokesperson for Lizzo’s legal camp. “Any and all claims to the contrary are ridiculous, and we look forward to proving so in a court of law.”
The newly filed documents, independently viewed by Variety, state the singer and her Big Grrrl touring company deny “each and every allegation” in the lawsuit and ask that it be dismissed “in its entirety with prejudice.”
It lists over 30 “affirmative defenses,” responding that “there was no injury, loss or damage to Plaintiffs” and that plaintiffs “are guilty of unclean hands” (meaning they are not legally entitled to any damages), among other notes in response to the dancer’s original claims.
The legal representative for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
Lizzo and her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., along with Shirlene Quigley, captain of Lizzo’s dance team, were named in the lawsuit (filed in August) that accused Lizzo and Quigley of weight shaming the trio of dancers and pressuring them into sexual advances at an Amsterdam strip club.
Among other claims, Lizzo was accused of subjecting the group of dancers to an “excruciating” 12-hour rehearsal, forcing one of the women to lose control of her bladder. Both Davis and Williams were fired and Rodriguez resigned.
Lizzo issued her own lengthy response on social media in the days that followed the trio’s complaint. She wrote that the allegations against her were false and were “as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.”
“These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional,” she wrote.
Hollywood attorney Marty Singer will represent Lizzo in this case. He also issued a statement and dispersed photos of the plaintiffs allegedly taken during one of the outings referenced in their original suit.
The plaintiffs claimed that they were coerced into attending a nude cabaret bar in Paris but Singer’s statement suggested the dancers were “happily carousing backstage with the performers after the topless cabaret show,” and shared images of them backstage.
Neama Rahmani and Ron Zambrano, who are representing Davis, Williams and Rodriguez, then released their own statements in which they called out Singer for making “empty threats” and “victim shaming.”
In the last week, another lawsuit was filed by a fashion designer named Asha Daniels who worked with Lizzo’s camp during her 2023 tour. The filing names Lizzo, her production company and tour manager along with Lizzo’s wardrobe manager Amanda Nomura.
Nomura is accused of acting out stereotypical impressions of Black women, referring to the performers as “fat,” “useless” and “dumb,” and other offensive patterns of behaviour. Daniels is represented by the same legal team behind Davis, Williams and Rodriguez.
This all comes on the heels of Lizzo accepting the Black Action Coalition’s Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award, an honour that acknowledged her philanthropic work and commitment to social justice.
Surrounded by dancers from her “The Special Tour,” Lizzo accepted her award and addressed the BMAC audience: “Black Action Coalition, y’all really are about that action. Thank you so much for this, because I needed this right now. God’s timing is always on time!” she exclaimed, tearing up. “I didn’t write a speech because I don’t know what to say in times like these.”
She went on to describe her humanitarian and activist initiatives, including donating a quarter of a million dollars in June to Black-led organizations dedicated to helping Black youth, women and the trans community.
“It’s easy to do the right thing when everybody’s watching you, and it’s what you do in those moments when nobody’s watching that defines who you are,” she said. “And, I’m going to continue to put on and represent safe spaces for fat Black women, because that’s what the fuck I do!”
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