A trio of former dancers from Lizzo’s tour are taking the artist to court for allegedly subjecting them to a hostile work environment that included instances of sexual harassment.
The lawsuit, which the firm representing the plaintiffs said was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses Lizzo and employees of Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. of questioning dancers about their weight and pressuring them to participate. in sexually explicit acts at sex shows. It details an incident in Amsterdam this year where staff were allegedly pressured into participating with nude performers.
“Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching the dildos thrown from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas that protruded from the performers’ vaginas,” the complaint states, which includes continuation.
Lizzo allegedly pressured plaintiff Arianna Davis to “touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club” and “began to lead a chant urging her” to do so despite expressing discomfort. She reluctantly agreed after the “chorus became overwhelming,” at which point the singer and her staff “burst into laughter,” the lawsuit says.
Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez make various allegations in the complaint, including religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment. Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson), the producer of her Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and Shirlene Quigley, captain of the singer’s dance team, have been sued.
The lawsuit says that Lizzo, considered an advocate of body positivity, pressured Davis to “explain why she seemed less bubbly and vivacious than she did before the tour began,” according to the complaint. She argues that the questions were “thinly veiled concerns about (his hers) weight gain, which Lizzo had previously called attention to after noticing him at the South by Southwest music festival.”
Although Lizzo never explicitly asked about her weight, Davis claims she was left with the “impression that she needed to explain her weight gain and reveal intimate personal details about her life in order to keep her job.”
Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. was also accused of religious harassment through Quigley, who allegedly monitored Davis’s virginity and “marked Rodriguez as a non-believer.” The complaint adds: “While Ms. Quigley was undoubtedly the most extreme in her religious convictions, her sentiments were echoed mildly by others in supervisory roles at BGBT. Before rehearsals and performances, the dance team would pray together. While it was not an official requirement for team members to participate in these prayers, it became clear that participation was mandatory.”
The assault claim stems from a confrontation between Rodriguez and Lizzo, who allegedly approached the dancer “aggressively, yelling profanity, cracking their knuckles and clenching their fists in apparent preparation to attack.” Lizzo supposedly had to be restrained.
Additionally, Davis alleges assault after she was “confined to a room against her will” and told she couldn’t leave unless she submitted to a search of her phone’s contents. She and Williams were fired while Rodriguez resigned, according to the complaint.
A representative for Lizzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.