Singer and entertainer Lizzo is frequently covered in new stories discussing body shaming and female empowerment. But in the last few months, Lizzo has been on the opposite side of the conversation.
Instead of being highlighted as a public figure promoting body positivity and empowerment, Lizzo has been accused of harassment and body shaming.
What are the accusations, and what does it mean for Lizzo?
A Surprising Lawsuit
Lizzo is widely known as a singer and an advocate for positivity, self-love, and beauty diversity, so many fans were surprised when a lawsuit against her was filed on August 1, 2023.
The lawsuit, filed by three former dancers, accuses Lizzo of behaviors and actions that go against the foundation of her public image.
The lawsuit names Lizzo, legal name Melissa Viviane Jefferson; the captain of Lizzo’s dance team who also worked on Lizzo’s reality television show, Shirlene Quigley; and Lizzo’s production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, according to reporting by NBC News.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of:
- Sexual harassment
- Creating a hostile work environment
- Religious and racial harassment
- False imprisonment
- Interference with prospective economic advantage
Who Filed the Lawsuit?
The lawsuit was filed by three former dancers. Two of the plaintiffs, Crystal Williams and Arianna Davis, were contestants on Lizzo’s television show “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.” Both dancers were fired between April and May of this year.
The third plaintiff, Noelle Rodriguez, was hired by Lizzo after performing in the music video for the song “Rumors.” Rodriguez has since resigned from the dance group.
The three women filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in which they are suing for general and special damages, as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit names three defendants, although each defendant is not accused of the same actions. The accusations against Lizzo and Jefferson vary, and the lawsuit does not claim that Lizzo knew about Jefferson’s actions outlined in the lawsuit.
What Are Lizzo and Her Dance Captain Accused Of?
The lawsuit includes various accusations against Lizzo, Jefferson, and the production company.
- Lizzo is accused of telling Davis to touch a naked dancer at a nude bar in Amsterdam and to have started a chant trying to convince Davis to touch the performer.
- Lizzo and Jefferson are accused of holding a grueling 12-hour rehearsal after hearing accusations that dancers were drinking on the job. They told the dancers the rehearsal would determine if they could keep their job or not. Davis was so afraid to leave the stage that she soiled her pants.
- Jefferson is accused of forcing her Christian religion on the dancers and degrading individuals who had premarital sex, while also “sharing lewd sexual fantasies, simulating oral sex and publicly discussing the virginity of one of the plaintiffs.”
- After a disagreement with Rodriguez, Lizzo is accused of looking at her, “cracking her knuckles, balling her fists,” and using an expletive to tell Rodriguez she was “lucky” after Rodriguez chose to resign from the group.
- Lizzo’s production company is accused of false imprisonment, referring to an incident when a member of the company’s security team is said to have refused to allow Davis to leave the room after a meeting. The security team held Davis in the room and insisted on searching her phone to look for videos taken during rehearsals, according to reporting by NBC News.
- Lizzo and Jefferson are accused of calling out Davis’ weight gain, but the lawsuit does not include any depictions or incidents where she was explicitly body-shamed.
What Happens Next?
While it appears that no new filings have been made in the case in recent weeks, there is speculation of upcoming updates.
According to Page Six, attorneys representing the lawsuit say six other dancers have come forward with stories similar to what is included in the lawsuit, although it does not appear that any additional plaintiffs have been added to the case or that any new cases have been filed against Lizzo.
Lizzo responded to the lawsuit by calling the claims false and outrageous. Her team said they may file a countersuit in the case, but at this time, it appears that no legal countersuit has been filed.
Protect Your Rights
Everyone has the right to work in conditions that are safe and free from harassment and malicious behavior. If you feel you have been put in an unsafe condition at work or have been involved in a workplace accident, talk to an attorney right away.
Protect yourself. Protect your rights. Share your story with an attorney. Get a free case review with TJ Grimaldi today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.
TJ Grimaldi joined McIntyre in 2011. McIntyre recruited TJ to create the divisions of personal injury and family law, as well as to expand the existing criminal defense practice at the firm. During TJ’s tenure at McIntyre, he has helped oversee and grow these practice areas. He continues to practice in these divisions while also expanding his own practice areas to include estate planning and immigration law. TJ is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.