Lizzo, the pop sensation known for her catchy tracks and positive messages, now finds herself at the center of a storm. A recent lawsuit filed against her has raised eyebrows and questions about the environment she fosters for her team, and we'll be looking at exactly what she has been accused of and how she has reacted.
Three of Lizzo's former dancers have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment (via BBC). But the allegations don't stop with Lizzo alone. Her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc., and her dance team captain, Shirlene Quigley, are also named in the lawsuit. The dancers claim that Lizzo pressured them into unwanted sexual situations, made inappropriate comments about a dancer's weight, and subjected them to intense rehearsals.
The Lawsuit Details
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court (confirmed by APNews), outlines nine areas of misconduct related to the dancers' experiences during Lizzo's Special Tour. These allegations vary in nature and target. Some are directed at all three defendants - Lizzo, Quigley, and Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc., while others are specific to individual defendants or plaintiffs.
Two key allegations made against all three defendants are:
- Creation of a hostile work environment characterized by sexual harassment.
- Failure to prevent or address both sexual and religious harassment in the workplace.
The dancers allege that their job security was constantly under threat. They felt compelled to comply with uncomfortable requests, some of which were sexual in nature. For instance, they claim Lizzo pressured them to attend a performance with nude dancers in Amsterdam. Further, religious harassment also features in the lawsuit. Quigley, Lizzo's dance team captain, is accused of frequently discussing her Christian beliefs and chastising those who didn't share them. The suit claims that one dancer's virginity became a topic of discussion without her consent and that the dancers felt pressured to join group Christian prayers, irrespective of their personal beliefs.
Read More: Grimes Praises Doja Cat And Defends Lizzo
The Impact on Lizzo's Image
Lizzo has built a reputation as a body positivity and inclusivity champion, especially for plus-size women of Color. She has been vocal about the challenges plus-size women face in society and has even launched a size-inclusive shapewear line, Yitty. Additionally, she produced a reality show, Watch Out for The Big Grrrls, aiming to spotlight plus-size dancers. Ironically, two of the plaintiffs, Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams, were part of this show. If proven true, the allegations could tarnish Lizzo's image and the positive message she promotes. They also shed light on the potential lack of oversight and accountability in the music industry.
Lizzo: Her Response
As of now, Lizzo has denied the allegations. The singer took to Instagram to post a lengthy response, which featured the following (via Vanity Fair):
“These last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” the Grammy-winning performer wrote. “My work ethic, morals, and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized. Usually, I chose not to respond to false allegations. But, these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed... The sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
According to the suit, Arianna Davis was fired for filming a meeting in which Lizzo provided notes to the dancers, which Davis says she wanted to review later. Lizzo added that she doesn’t want to be “looked at as a victim, but also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself. But, I can not accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.”
The next steps she plans to take remain unclear. However, the gravity of the lawsuit cannot be understated. It draws attention to the blurred lines between personal and professional boundaries in the entertainment industry. The lawsuit against Lizzo is a stark reminder of the challenges and pitfalls artists and their teams can face. As the case unfolds, it will be crucial to see how Lizzo and her team address the allegations. On top of that, also what changes, if any, are implemented to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.