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INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Singer Lizzo faces potential lawsuit for alleged sexual harassment

Posted: Tuesday, August 1, 2023. 7:06 pm CST.

By Celeste Chang: Hip-hop and R&B singer Lizzo, full name Melissa Viviane Jefferson, is accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment for several of her former dancers, NBC News reports, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Lizzo, who promotes body positivity and loves celebrating her body, is being sued by three of her former dancers who say she pressured one of them to touch a nude performer at an Amsterdam club and forced the group to an “excruciating” audition after false accusations that they had been drinking on the job. The singer is also being accused of calling out the weight of one of her dancers and later criticizing them, then firing that dancer after she recorded a meeting due to a health condition.

The suit also alleges that Lizzo called attention to a dancer’s weight after an appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival. Both the singer and her choreographer later told the dancer, Arianna Davis, that she seemed “less committed” to her role, a comment that the suit describes as a “thinly veiled” concern about Davis’ weight. The suit names Lizzo, her production company and dance captain, Shirlene Quigley, as defendants.

NBC reports that “the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and provided to NBC News by the plaintiffs’ law firm, 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 suit does not confirm if the artist knew about the allegations linked to Quigley, but it is believed the singer was aware of their complaints about her, according to the former dancers’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano.

In addition to accusations of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment, the suit brings charges of religious and racial harassment, false imprisonment, interference with prospective economic advantage, and other allegations. Not each allegation was brought against each of the defendants.

Attorney Zambrano stated, “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. Lizzo and her team have not yet commented.


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