Internationally acclaimed artist Lizzo, legal name Melissa Viviane Jefferson, finds herself facing a lawsuit from three former dancers—Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez. These individuals, who once performed alongside the artist during her tours, claim she created an oppressive work environment, replete with s*xual, religious, and racial harassment.
The allegations also include assault, false imprisonment, and discriminatory behavior. The lawsuit, lodged in Los Angeles on Tuesday, details instances of 's*xually denigrating conduct' and accusations of the dancers being coerced into 'disturbing s*x shows' during the period from 2021 to 2023.
It also contends that Lizzo, a figure celebrated for her body positivity and self-love ethos, compelled Davis to touch a performer's breasts in a nightclub in Amsterdam. Davis, concerned for her future with the team, eventually succumbed to the pressure.
Allegations of Weight-Shaming
Furthermore, Lizzo and her dance choreographer, Tanisha Scott, face allegations of weight-shaming Davis. The case documents suggest they subtly implied Davis's weight gain indicated her decreasing commitment to her role in the dance crew.
This is a common perspective in the professional dance world, where weight gain is often equated with laziness or a decline in performance. The plaintiffs argue that this environment of implied criticism coerced Davis into feeling compelled to justify her weight gain and reveal personal aspects of her life to retain her position.
This perceived weight bias wasn't exclusive to Lizzo and Scott; the lawsuit alleges similar conduct from Big Grrrl Big Touring (BGBT), Lizzo's production company. The staff are said to have scolded dancers for unidentified 'unacceptable and disrespectful' behavior.
In addition to the aforementioned accusations, the lawsuit also alleges that Shirlene Quigley, the dance team's captain, imposed her Christian beliefs on the performers and openly denigrated those engaging in premarital s*x.
Quigley is said to have publicly discussed a former dancer's virginity on social media. The accusations extend to racial discrimination, suggesting that BGBT's management team treated Black members of the dance team differently, employing offensive stereotypes to discourage and disparage them.
The plaintiffs also allege inadequate compensation, claiming that Lizzo and BGBT offered them only 25% of their weekly pay during non-performing periods of the tour, in contrast to the 50% offered to other performers. Davis and Williams first met Lizzo in March 2021 on the reality TV show 'Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls'
Rodriguez joined later, in May 2021, as a dancer in Lizzo's 'Rumours' music video, and remained a member of the dance troop. Both Davis and Williams were dismissed from the team, while Rodriguez voluntarily resigned, objecting to her colleagues' alleged mistreatment.
The pop star, famed for hits such as 'Truth Hurts', 'About Damn Time', 'Juice', 'Good As Hell', and '2 Be Loved', is yet to publicly comment on these allegations, which now await examination in court.