Lizzo has described the lawsuit filed against her by her ex-dancers as a “fabricated sob story” and has filed her own motion asking the court to dismiss it.
In August, it emerged that three former backup dancers for the singer had sued her for creating a hostile work environment and engaging in sexual harassment, among other allegations. The incidents are alleged to have taken place between 2021 and 2023.
As reported by Rolling Stone, this move now sees Lizzo and her representatives allege that the dancers in question had shown a “pattern of gross misconduct”.
The filing states: “Plaintiffs missed flights, arrived late and hungover to rehearsals and drunk to performances, entered into consensual sexual relationships with male crew members on tour, exhibited a rapid decline in the quality of their dancing and professionalism, and ultimately conspired to make and disseminate an unauthorized recording of a creative meeting with Lizzo and the dance cast.”
This motion has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit under the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, which has the power to strike down lawsuits that threaten free speech.
The three dancers, Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis and Noelle Rodriguez, are represented by the attorney Neama Rahmani, who told Rolling Stone: “Even a first-year law student can see that ‘free speech’ does not cover Lizzo and her team’s illegal sexual harassment and racial, religious, and disability discrimination. The defense’s declarants are either defendants accused of wrongdoing, or people who are on Lizzo’s payroll, and their statements can’t be considered by the judge. That’s a question for the jury.”
“Our clients have dozens of independent witnesses who support their stories, and we continue to receive inquiries from other former Lizzo employees who want to be new plaintiffs.”
In response, Lizzo’s lawyer Martin D. Singer said that Lizzo gave the dancers a “leg up” and “an incredible opportunity to take their careers to the next level”. He added, “Instead of taking any accountability for their own actions, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Defendants out of spite and in pursuit of media attention, public sympathy and a quick payday with minimal effort.”
Included in Lizzo’s motion are 18 written declarations from the singer’s crew, including former dancers, managers and band members.
One, from bassist Zuri Appleby, responds to the accusation that Lizzo had fat-shamed Davis. “To the contrary, everyone on the tour was genuinely concerned about Davis, not because she had gained weight, but because she was lax about her performances, her hygiene and her health,” he says.
“[Her weight gain] was concerning because it was affecting the quality of her performance and her energy level, and not because she looked different… Lizzo met with her to give her the opportunity to start focusing on her health and to offer her support and tools to do so, which was a blessing because she could have been sent home without warning because she was not meeting the standards for her job.”
In August, the lawyer representing the three dancers claimed that his firm are reviewing at least six new complaints about the singer. “Some of the claims we are reviewing may be actionable, but it is too soon to say,” he said.
It has also been reported that in January, 14 of Lizzo’s dancers received a settlement for another dispute relating to footage from the 2022 documentary Love, Lizzo. The dancers claimed that a scene where they discuss misogyny, racism and weight-shaming was used without authorisation. Lizzo’s lawyer commented that Lizzo “had nothing to do” with the dispute and “knew nothing about it”.
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