Pop star Lizzo has hit back at a string of allegations from former dancers on her tour, including claims of sexual harassment, saying they are false and “unbelievable”.
Over the last few days the US pop sensation has remained silent as three of the former dancers announced they would bring a case against Lizzo’s tour company, Big Grrrl Big Touring (BGBT).
The three woman – Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez – have claimed they were victims of a hostile work environment, discrimination, false imprisonment and assault while in the employ of BGBT.
Allegations include fat shaming while one of the most lurid claims is that while at a club in Amsterdam, Lizzo invited staff to touch nude performers.
One of the three bringing the case said she had no choice but to “soil herself” on stage after she and others were forced to go through a long and excruciating re-audition for their dancing jobs. She claimed she feared losing her job if she asked to go to the toilet.
After several days, Lizzo responded on social media on Thursday morning, US time.
“These last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” the singer said.
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.”
The dancers’ claim is against Lizzo – full name Melissa Viviane Jefferson – and her dance captain Shirlene Quigley as well as Big Grrrl Big Touring.
One of the alleged incidents involves a concert trip with the Grammy Award-winning artist to Amsterdam in February 2023.
The plaintiffs claim Lizzo invited them for a night out on the town — which ended in the city’s red light district. The area is known for its sex theatres, sex shops and clubs and bars where nudity is on full display.
The lawsuit states, “ … things quickly got out of hand. Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas.”
The suit also claims Lizzo allegedly “pressured” and “goaded” Ms Davis into touching one nude performer’s breasts, reported the New York Post.
The plaintiffs claim that, just a month later, Lizzo, 35, deceived them once again into attending a nude show, thereby “robbing them of the choice not to participate,” the documents state.
Ms Davis also claims in the lawsuit that at one point, she had no choice but to “soil herself” on stage during an “excruciating” re-audition, “fearing the repercussions” of excusing herself to go to the rest room.
Eventually, Lizzo allegedly fired Ms Davis “on the spot” after learning Davis had recorded one of their meetings even though it was in order to have “a copy of the notes” the artist provided.
Rodriguez resigned shortly thereafter out of solidarity with Davis and the “disrespect” Lizzo allegedly showed her.
The lawsuit claims she “feared that Lizzo intended to hit her and would have done so if one of the other dancers had not intervened”.
The three are suing for general and special damages, as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
“The stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly, while privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are … absolutely demoralising,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano, said in a statement.