Backup Dancers Accuse Lizzo of Sexual Harassment

Lawsuit says singer, management team created hostile work environment
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2023 5:35 PM CDT
Backup Dancers Accuse Lizzo of Sexual Harassment
Lizzo performs on the Orange Stage, during the Roskilde Festival, in Roskilde, Denmark, Saturday, July 1, 2023.   (Helle Arensbak/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

Lizzo is being sued by three former backup dancers who allege that the singer's private treatment of her staff was severely at odds with her public persona. Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis, and Noelle Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against Lizzo, her production company, and dance team captain Shirley Quigley Tuesday, alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, Rolling Stone reports. Other allegations include "religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment," per the AP.

Davis and Williams joined the dance crew through Lizzo's reality show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. The plaintiffs performed with Lizzo in appearances between September 2021 and April 2022, and in a 2023 tour of Europe. The lawsuit alleges that Lizzo led a chant to pressure Davis to touch a performer's breasts at a club in Amsterdam's red light district. "A mortified Ms. Davis acquiesced in an attempt to bring an end to the chants," the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also alleges that employees were pressured to take part in lewd acts involving bananas at the Amsterdam club, Jezebel reports.

Lizzo, "who routinely champions body positivity," per the AP, is also accused of criticizing Davis for gaining weight. The lawsuit also alleges that Quigley often made sexually inappropriate comments—and also tried to push her Christian beliefs on the dancers. "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," said lawyer Ron Zambrano. Representatives for Lizzo haven't commented on the lawsuit yet. (More Lizzo stories.)

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