Lizzo Sued By Former Backup Dancers For Creating Hostile Environment

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: EDITORIAL USE ONLY: Lizzo performs on stage during The BRIT Awards 2023 at The O2 Arena on February 11, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Three former dancers have filed a suit against Lizzo, accusing the singer of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

Grammy-award winning singer Lizzo is being sued by three former dancers for allegedly creating a hostile work environment.

The dancers claim they had to endure weight-shaming, sexually denigrating behavior and pressure to participate in disturbing sex shows. They also allege that she pressured one of them to touch a nude performer at an Amsterdam club and subjected the group to an “excruciating” audition after leveling false accusations that they were drinking on the job.

Plaintiffs Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams claim in the lawsuit filed Tuesday (August 1) that they were eventually fired while the third plaintiff, Noelle Rodriguez, resigned over Lizzo’s “stunning” behavior.

According to NBC, “the suit also accuses the captain of Lizzo’s dance team of proselytizing to other performers and deriding those who had premarital sex while sharing lewd sexual fantasies, simulating oral sex and publicly discussing the virginity of one of the plaintiffs.”

The defendant’s lawyer, Ron Zambrano, stated the alleged hypocrisy of Lizzo’s public support of body-positivity and the allegations made against her. “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.”

Davis and another former dancer, Crystal Williams, began performing with Lizzo after competing on her Amazon reality show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, in 2021, according to the suit. The dancers were later fired. 

The third, Noelle Rodriguez, was hired the same year after performing in the video “Rumors,” the suit says. Rodriguez resigned earlier this year. 

Davis also sued the production company and Lizzo for disability discrimination. The dancer claimed that Lizzo called attention to the dancer’s weight in a “thinly veiled” comment about her seeming “less committed” to her work following a SXSW performance. Davis claimed Lizzo was “relentless” in asking her to disclose which “personal issues” she was dealing with, and therefore, Davis disclosed that she was struggling with anxiety, depression, and had been diagnosed with binge eating disorder. The lawsuit states:

In response, Lizzo and [choreographer Tanisha] Scott dismissively offered Ms. Davis time off of rehearsals to attend therapy. This offer seemed strange to Ms. Davis and made her feel like if she accepted the time off, Lizzo and BGBT would see her as too weak to continue as a member of the dance cast. Accordingly, Ms. Davis declined, thinking it was the only way she could keep her job. This meeting took place immediately before a show and although Ms. Davis was hurt and emotionally drained by being forced to tell her employers about personal struggles, she still went out and performed that night.

Williams claims to have lost her job after speaking up at a rehearsal where she challenged Lizzo’s assertion that the dancers drink before rehearsals. Davis recorded an April 27 meeting, claiming to do so because of a stress-induced eye condition. When Lizzo learned of the recording, the lawsuit claims she expressed outrage at an emergency meeting where Davis acknowledged making the recording. Davis said Lizzo fired her on the spot. Davis alleged false imprisonment against the production company, claiming she was forced to remain in the room so her phone could be searched.

The suit does not specify a dollar amount for damages that cover emotional distress including unpaid wages, loss of earnings and attorney’s fees.