Lizzo on Thursday denied allegations made against her this week by three former dancers who said she created a hostile work environment while performing concerts during the Grammy-winning singer’s Special Tour this year.
The three dancers said they had been “exposed to an overtly sexual atmosphere that permeated their workplace,” in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit described several episodes that lawyers for the dancers said amounted to sexual harassment and weight shaming.
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” Lizzo said in a statement posted on social media. “These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Two of the plaintiffs, Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams, became dancers for Lizzo after competing on her reality television show on Amazon Prime, “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” in 2021. The lawsuit says Ms. Davis and Ms. Williams were fired in the spring of 2023.
The third plaintiff, Noelle Rodriguez, was hired in May 2021 to perform in Lizzo’s “Rumors” music video and joined her dance team. Ms. Rodriguez resigned shortly after Ms. Davis and Ms. Williams were fired, the lawsuit says.
Ms. Davis, who was diagnosed with a binge eating disorder, said in the lawsuit that some of Lizzo’s statements to dancers gave her the impression that she had to “explain her weight gain and disclose intimate personal details about her life in order to keep her job.”
The lawsuit also describes an episode at a nightclub in Amsterdam where Lizzo began inviting employees to touch nude performers and handle dildos and bananas used in their performances.
A dancer, fearing retaliation, “acquiesced” to touching the breast of a nude female performer despite repeatedly expressing no interest in doing so, the suit says.
Lizzo said in her statement on Thursday that she took her music and performances seriously. “Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team,” the statement said.
She also nodded to the sexual harassment allegations and directly denied the claims that she had weight shamed dancers.
“I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not,” the statement said. “There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight.”
The defendants in the lawsuit include Lizzo, using her full name, Melissa Jefferson, instead of her stage name; her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc.; and Shirlene Quigley, the tour’s dance captain.
Lizzo did not address the allegations made against Ms. Quigley, who was accused of making sexually explicit comments to the dancers and of engaging in religious harassment.