Lizzo on Thursday hit back at allegations she weight-shamed her staff, calling the accusations in a lawsuit leveled by former dancers “as unbelievable as they sound.”
Three of the pop star’s former dancers filed the suit in Los Angeles, with accusations of labor law violations including descriptions of what their lawyers deem shaming and sexual harassment.
One of the allegations centers around an Amsterdam red-light district sex show which the dancers say they felt pressured to attend. At the show Lizzo pressured her dancers to interact with the nude performers, the suit alleges.
It also alleges that Lizzo’s dance leader, Shirlene Quigley, frequently made sexual comments and proselytized her Christian beliefs, especially against pre-marital sex, “regardless of protestations.”
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” Lizzo posted Thursday on social media.
“These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
The lawsuit alleges that white managers from Lizzo’s production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), which was also named in the complaint, “often accused the Black members of the dance team of being lazy, unprofessional, and having bad attitudes.”
“Not only do these words ring familiar as tropes used to disparage and discourage Black women from advocating for themselves, but the same accusations were not levied against dancers who are not Black,” according to the complaint cited in the statement.
“Only the dance cast — comprised of full-figured women of color — were ever spoken to in this manner, giving Plaintiffs the impression that these comments were charged with racial and fat-phobic animus,” it added.
The accusations were particularly surprising given Lizzo’s oft-repeated messages of self-love and body positivity.
She did not directly address the accusations made against Quigley. Lizzo did explicitly deny the weight-shaming allegations.
“There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight,” Lizzo said.
“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.”
Ron Zambrano, the attorney representing plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, said Lizzo “failed her own brand” with her statement, accusing her of “utter lack of empathy.”
“Her denial of this reprehensible behavior only adds to our clients’ emotional distress,” the lawyer said.