- Paul Glynn
- Entertainment reporter
Lizzo has filed her first legal response to a lawsuit filed by three of her former dancers.
The star and her company Big Grrrl Big Touring are asking the court to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be reopened.
If they don’t, the dancers will demand a jury trial.
What are the complaints?
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez accused Lizzo (real name Melissa Jefferson) and her touring company of several charges in an initial complaint filed in a Los Angeles court.
These included allegations that Lizzo forced them to attend sex shows in Amsterdam and interact with nude performers, and that dance team captain Shirlene Quigley repeatedly engaged in behavior that made them feel uncomfortable.
They also accuse Lizzo of fat shaming, saying the Brit Award and Grammy winner “brought attention” to the dancer’s weight gain after the performance; and that touring company employees singled out black dancers, accusing them of being “lazi, unprofessional and having a bad attitude.”
It is also alleged that Lizzo refused to let the dancers go to the restroom during a “torturous re-audition.”
Immediately following the claims, Lizzo took to social media to say they were “as incredible as they sound and too outrageous to ignore.”
She added that the “sensational stories” “have come from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told that their behavior during the tour was inappropriate and unprofessional,” which the dancers deny.
Lizzo’s dance crew Big Grrrls later released a statement in support of the singer, saying they “had a great time” on tour.
What are Lizzo’s lawyers saying now?
- The dancers who filed the complaint “ratified, consented to, condoned and/or approved of the acts” they were now complaining about.
- Lizzo’s alleged conduct “was undertaken in good faith and for good reason” and “was undertaken for lawful reasons reasonably related to one or more legitimate business purposes.”
- If the dancers suffered the alleged harm, they “contributed in whole or in part” to that harm.
- The dancers’ claims involve Lizzo’s rights to freedom of speech and/or religion and are therefore prohibited.
- The dancers’ claims of discrimination or retaliation should be barred because any employment decisions were made “for lawful, non-discriminatory and non-pretextual reasons” and that Lizzo and the other defendants “acted out of business necessity.”
- The dancers “failed to defend themselves and cannot establish facts sufficient to support allegations of malice, oppression or fraud.”
Lizzo’s rep Stefan Friedman said in a statement that this is the “first step” of a legal process in which the star and her team will “demonstrate that they have always practiced what they preached, whether that be promoting body positivity.” , providing a safe and supportive workplace, or protecting people from harassment of any kind.”
He continued: “Any claims to the contrary are ludicrous and we look forward to proving that in court.”
In response, the dancers’ lawyer, Neama Rahmani, said Lizzo’s team’s response “simply consists of boilerplate objections that have nothing to do with the case.”
“However, the key takeaway is that Lizzo agrees to our clients’ demand for a jury trial,” he added.
“We look forward to presenting our case in court and allowing a panel of her peers to decide who is telling the truth, Lizzo and her team who continue to shame victims or prosecutors, and the many others who have come forward sharing similar stories of abuse and harassment.”
Earlier this month, Lizzo was sued for the second time this year by a former employee who alleged she oversaw an “unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture.”
Fashion designer Asha Daniels has accused the star’s wardrobe manager of making “racist and fatphobic” comments and bullying black women around her.
Lizzo was named as a defendant in the suit, but was not directly accused of harassment.
The star’s representative called the case an “absurd PR stunt.”