Pop star Lizzo is facing serious accusations as three of her former dancers filed a lawsuit against her, alleging sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, religious and racial harassment, discrimination, assault, and false imprisonment. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, details disturbing allegations of the dancers being subjected to sexually denigrating behavior and being pressured into participating in explicit sex shows between 2021 and 2023.
Among the accusations against Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, is pressuring one of the dancers, Arianna Davis, to touch the breasts of a performer during a nightclub performance in Amsterdam. Despite resisting, Davis allegedly acquiesced out of fear that it could harm her future with the dance team if she didn’t comply.
Additionally, Lizzo and dance choreographer Tanisha Scott are accused of weight-shaming Davis on tour. The suit claims that they questioned whether Davis was struggling with something due to her perceived lack of commitment to her role on the dance cast. These actions allegedly left Davis feeling that she needed to explain her weight gain and share intimate personal details to retain her job.
Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Shirlene Quigley, the dance team’s captain, imposed her Christian beliefs on performers and derided those who engaged in premarital sex. Quigley is also accused of openly discussing the virginity of one of the former dancers and posting about it on social media.
The lawsuit further alleges racial discrimination against the black members of the dance troupe, claiming they were treated differently from other members, with accusations of being lazy, unprofessional, and having bad attitudes—an unfair trope commonly used to disparage and discourage black women.
The plaintiffs also assert that Lizzo and the production company team did not compensate them fairly during parts of Lizzo’s European tour. They claim they were offered only 25% of their weekly pay while not performing, whereas other performers received 50%, and were told not to work on other projects during the tour.
The three dancers involved in the lawsuit—Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez—worked with Lizzo after competing on her reality TV show, “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” in 2021. Davis and Williams were subsequently fired in the spring of 2023, while Rodriguez resigned in response to the alleged mistreatment of her fellow colleagues.
Representatives for Lizzo and her production company have not yet responded to the allegations. The accusations leveled against Lizzo appear to contradict her public image of championing body positivity, self-love, and inclusivity.
As the legal battle unfolds, it may potentially tarnish Lizzo’s reputation as an empowering figure and advocate for diversity. Employment discrimination cases in the entertainment industry can be challenging to prove, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers may seek a settlement given the difficult nature of such cases.
Lizzo’s rise to fame has been marked by her empowering anthems and commitment to body positivity, but these allegations may impact her standing within the industry and among her fans. The lawsuit highlights the need for proper and respectful treatment of performers within the entertainment world, regardless of their background or body size.