Lizzo Speaks Out After Lawsuit Filed by Dancers, 1 of Whom Tells Inside Edition 'Dream Job' Was a 'Nightmare'
"This was supposed to be my dream job and then it turned into a nightmare," dancer Crystal Williams tells Inside Edition after filing suit against Lizzo, who she and two other dancers claim created and fostered a hostile work environment.
Three dancers who have filed a lawsuit against Lizzo are speaking out to Inside Edition.
Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis and Noelle Rodriguez spoke with Ann Mercogliano to share what they say their life on tour was like with the body-positivity icon.
"This was supposed to be my dream job and then it turned into a nightmare," Williams says.
Davis adds: 'It's shocking because it's Lizzo."
Lizzo, who was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, has built her very lucrative brand on body positivity, female empowerment and self-love over the past five years, but these women say that things were very different behind closed doors.
Davis claims that she was weight-shamed after gaining a few pounds.
"There was an air of what's wrong with you, you look like you're gaining weight," Davis says.
Rodriguez says that she had issues with how Lizzo treated people.
"The last straw with Lizzo personally was just how she would talk down to us," Rodriguez says. "A lot of cursing involved, a lot of mental abuse."
In their lawsuit, all three women accuse Lizzo of creating and fostering a hostile work environment.
The women allege that the singer and her touring production company created "a hostile, abusive work environment" and made "their working conditions intolerable," in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Lizzo on Thursday responded to the allegations levied against her in a lengthy post on social media.
“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelming disappointing,” Lizzo wrote. “My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized. Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous not to be addressed.”
She then talked about her passion for performing and her drive to put out the "best art" she can while on tour.
"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 singer wrote.
She closed out her statement by writing: “I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not."
Lizzo is being sued by the three dancers, who are seeking damages from the singer, as well as by Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. and Shirlene Quigley, the tour’s dance captain.
"The stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly," Ron Zambrano, who is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
He went to allege that Lizzo "privately ... weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing."
The woman claim they were subject to multiple forms of harassment, including racial harassment by the touring production company, which accused the Black dancers of being "lazy, unprofessional, and having bad attitudes," according to the lawsuit.
Davis claims that after one performance, both Lizzo and Quigley told her she seemed “less committed” after she gained weight. The lawsuit alleges that the dancer, who says she has been diagnosed with binge-eating disorder, then felt like she “needed to explain her weight gain and disclose intimate personal details about her life in order to keep her job.”
Another allegation involves an alleged trip to an after-hours club in Amsterdam.
"Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas," claims the lawsuit. "Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts one of the nude women performing at the club."
The lawsuit alleges that Davis repeatedly said she did not wish to touch the performer but eventually felt as though she had no choice.
At one point, Lizzo allegedly made the dancers re-audition for their jobs after accusing them of drinking before performances, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that all three dancers say that they "had never partaken in such a practice."
"The re-audition was brutal as the dancers were not allowed a break. During the run-through of the show Ms. Davis felt she needed to excuse herself to use the restroom, however, she was afraid that if she left the stage at any point during the audition she would be fired," says the lawsuit. "Ms. Davis pressed on as long as she could until she eventually lost control of her bladder. Still fearing the repercussions of exiting the stage during the run through, Ms. Davis remained on stage, dancing in soiled clothes until there was a brief segment of the show where the dance cast was not part of the onstage performance and were allowed a short break."
Davis also accuses Lizzo of disability discrimination, saying she was fired after she decided to record a meeting. The lawsuit says that Davis only made the recording because she has an eye condition that causes her to "sometimes become disoriented in stressful situations as a result."
Lizzo allegedly learned of this and called an emergency wardrobe fitting, according to the lawsuit.
"Security took each dancer’s phone as they entered the room. Once all were in the room and their phones were collected, Lizzo entered. Lizzo stated she knew that one of the dancers recorded their meeting on April 27, 2023. Lizzo became furious, hurling expletives at the group and stated that she was going to go around the room, person-by-person until someone told Lizzo who made the recording," the lawsuit reads.
Davis then confessed and explained that she "wanted to have a copy of the notes Lizzo had given them about their performances," the lawsuit reads.
According to the lawsuit, Davis said that she deleted the recording after viewing the video.
Lizzo allegedly responded, “there is nothing you can say to make me believe you.”
Davis says she was fired on the spot.
After witnessing Davis' very public termination by Lizzo, Rodriguez quit on the spot, according to the lawsuit.
"This resignation drew both Ms. Quigley’s and Lizzo’s ire," says the lawsuit. "Ms. Quigley sscreamed at Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Davis, calling them disrespectful. Then Lizzo aggressively approached Ms. Rodriquez, cracking her knuckles, balling her fists, and exclaiming, 'You’re lucky. You’re so f***** lucky!'"
The lawsuit continues: "Ms. Rodriguez feared that Lizzo intended to hit her and would have done so if one of the other dancers had not intervened. Neither security nor management did anything to de-escalate the situation. As Lizzo left the room, she raised both her middle fingers and yelled, 'Bye, b****!'"
Davis said she was then detained by Lizzo's security team and forced to watch as they went through her entire phone, ultimately finding no recordings of any meetings, claims the lawsuit.
Quigley, meanwhile, is accused of allegedly espousing her religious beliefs on dancers and expressing her strong view of virginity during the tour, says the lawsuit.
She responded to the allegations on Instagram, posting a video of herself in the car, saying: "I just wanted to get on here really quick and say that God is so, so good. God loves you so, so, so, so, so much. Not matter what you’re going through, even if you don’t love him, he loves you.”
The dancers who filed the lawsuit are seeking a jury trial with an unspecified amount in damages.
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