Three former touring dancers for Lizzo have filed a lawsuit against the singer, alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
The lawsuit also accuses Lizzo of weight-shaming these dancers. Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, has embraced the body-positivity movement so these allegations are especially shocking. Shirlene Quigley and Lizzo’s production company were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The suit alleges in addition to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment that Lizzo created an environment of religious and racial harassment, false imprisonment, interference with prospective economic advantage and other allegation. Not every defendant in the claim faces each of these allegations, however.
One allegation in the lawsuit alleges that Lizzo called attention to a dancer’s weight after a SXSW show. The dancer recalls that Lizzo told her she was “less committed” than the others to her role, which the lawsuit alleges is a thinly-veiled comment to concern police Davis’ weight.
Another allegation involves an afterparty at an Amsterdam strip club, which are described as non-mandatory, but the lawsuit alleges those who attended were favored by the singer and had greater job security than those who did not attend. During this particular party, allegations arose that Lizzo “invited cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas from performers’ vaginas.”
“Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women,” the lawsuit obtained by NBC News reads. Davis declined, which allegedly prompted Lizzo to lead a chant into goading Davis into performing the action.
“Plaintiffs were aghast with how little regard Lizzo showed for the bodily autonomy of her employees and those around her, especially in the presence of many people whom she employed,” the lawsuit continues.
Dancers were asked to be compensated for their downtime at a rate of 50% of their weekly pay. But one accountant countered by offering them 25% and scolded them for being “disrespectful” in their request. “Only the dance cast—comprised of full-figured women of color—were ever spoken to in this manner,” the lawsuit alleges.
The religious harassment aspect of the lawsuit is directed at Quigley, who is described as preaching her Christian beliefs to anyone and everyone. The suit says she “took every opportunity to proselytize to any and all in her presence regardless of protestations.”
Two of the dancers who filed the lawsuit were filed in April and May of 2023. They allege they were fired after they spoke up about Lizzo’s behavior and comments and were told their termination was due to budget cuts—but that no one else was fired.