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Lizzo lawsuit – latest: Ex-dancers’ lawyer hits back at singer’s response to sexual harassment claims

Plaintiff Arianna Davis alleges the Grammy winner made a ‘thinly-veiled’ comment about her weight and pressured her to touch nude performers at a strip club

Peony Hirwani,Inga Parkel,Tom Murray
Saturday 05 August 2023 08:15 BST
Lizzo has said “I’m not the villain”

Lizzo has said “I’m not the villain” in response to sexual harassment and fat-shaming claims in a lawsuit filed by three former troupe members.

“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized,” she wrote in a statement posted on her social media channels.

Shortly after the singer broke her silence, the accusers reacted in shock to Lizzo’s “disheartening” response to their claims during their first UK TV appearance since their allegations came to light on Tuesday (1 August).

“Initially for me it just further deepened my disappointment in regards to how I was feeling and how I was treated,” Crystal Williams said on Channel 4.

According to the legal filing, Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson) allegedly pressured one of her dancers, Arianna Davis into touching a nude performer at an Amsterdam strip club.

It is also alleged that the Grammy winner set up a humiliating 12-hour re-audition for her dancers, and fostered a hostile work environment.


Dancer suing Lizzo suggested in 2021 she felt pressured to pose nude for singer’s Big Grrrls reality show

Resurfaced clip appears to show dancer feeling pressured to strip for Lizzo series

Arianna Davis was worried refusing to strip might ‘hinder chances‘ of being hired by singer

Tom Murray5 August 2023 07:07

RuPaul alum voices support for Lizzo

In addition to his original support for Lizzo, as she faces damaging allegations, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Kahanna Montrese posted another separate Instagram Story, telling the singer to “stay strong”.

Kahanna Montrese supports Lizzo on Instagram Story (Kahanna Montrese on Instagram)
Tom Murray5 August 2023 06:10

Watch: Dancers who filed lawsuit against Lizzo describe star's alleged 'weight-shaming'

Dancers who filed lawsuit against Lizzo describe star's alleged 'weight-shaming'
Tom Murray5 August 2023 05:06

Filmmaker details Lizzo’s alleged ‘cruel’ behaviour that made her quit HBO documentary

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison has claimed quit a documentary about Lizzo because she displayed “unkind and cruel” behaviour.

The documentarian was set to make a film with Lizzo in 2019, but walked away after shadowing the singer for two weeks.

After the news that the singer was being sued by three former employees, Allison spoke out in support of the workers and claimed Lizzo was so “arrogant, unkind and cruel” that she quit the project.

Director details alleged ‘cruel’ Lizzo behaviour that made her quit HBO documentary

’Her image and ‘message’ is a curated facade,’ documentarian Sophia Nahli Allison said

Tom Murray5 August 2023 04:07

Listen: The Independent's LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman's Hour

The Independent's LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman's Hour
Tom Murray5 August 2023 03:08

Beyoncé’s mother addresses speculation singer changed lyrics in response to Lizzo lawsuit

During the set for her Renaissance world tour, the singer regularly performs “Break My Soul (The Queens Remix)”, in which she lists off a number of Black female artists, including Lizzo, Lauryn Hill, Betty Davis, and her sister Solange Knowles.

However, during this show, Beyoncé altered the lyrics and did not say Lizzo’s name. Many fans took this as a deliberate omission in response to the lawsuit filed against the “Truth Hurts” rapper.

However, Beyoncé’s fashion designer mother Tina, 69, has shut down this claim on Instagram.

Read more:

Beyoncé’s mother addresses speculation singer changed song lyrics after Lizzo lawsuit

Beyoncé didn’t say Lizzo’s name during her performance of ‘Break My Soul (The Queens Remix)’ on Tuesday

Tom Murray5 August 2023 02:09

What was Lizzo’s response?

In a statement posted on social media, Lizzo said the lawsuit was full of “sensationalised stories coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional”.

She continued: “I take my music and my performances seriously because at the end of the day I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans.

“With passion comes hard work and high standards,” Lizzo added. “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 “Juice” singer stressed that she does not want to be seen “as a victim”, but added: “I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days.”

She denied fat-shaming any of her employees, and shared she felt “hurt” by the claims against her, while expressing her gratitude for the support she has received.

“I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time,” she finished.

Tom Murray5 August 2023 01:10

Who else is named in the lawsuit?

The other defendants include Quigley and Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc.

Davis alleges that Quigley “regularly preached at [her] about what [she] believed to be a shared Christian identity” and it was claimed that she had often “pushed” her beliefs on members of the dance group and made them feel “uncomfortable”.

The lawsuit claims Davis’s virginity became a topic of “extreme importance” to Quigley during the filming of Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. She allegedly “broadcast” this “intensely personal detail” about Davis “to the world” – including during interviews – without her permission.

Quigley allegedly made derisive comments about people who engaged in pre-marital sex despite knowing some members of the troupe “did not share her views”.

Davis, Williams, and Rodrigues also accuse Quigley of “sexually inappropriate behaviour” at work, including allegedly simulating oral sex on a banana in front of the cast. They claim this “party trick” left the plaintiffs feeling very uncomfortable.

They also claim Quigley made “sexually explicit comments”, including sharing her sexual fantasies with the cast.

She has been accused of imposing her religious beliefs on Rodriguez, a “non-believer”. When Rodriguez asked Quigley to “refrain” from doing this, the dance captain allegedly became “irate and yelled at her”.

The claims against Big Grrrl include allegations of racism towards the black woman on the dance team, with members of the management team accusing them “of being lazy, unprofessional, and having bad attitudes”.

Tom Murray5 August 2023 00:18

All the allegations made by former dancers

In the 44-page lawsuit, three dancers detail allegations of assault, inappropriate sexual behaviour, workplace misconduct, disability discrimination, and religious harassment against Lizzo and her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc (BGBT).

It’s a lot to get your head around; so, The Independent has compiled a one-sheet of all the allegations made by the plaintiffs here.

Lizzo: All the allegations in lawsuit filed by dancers

Grammy winner, 35, responded to the ‘outrageous’ claims on Wednesday

Tom Murray4 August 2023 23:10

Video: Lizzo talks about wanting to go to banana sex show during 2019 interview

Lizzo talks about wanting to go to banana sex show during 2019 interview
Tom Murray4 August 2023 21:31

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