In her first comments since the lawsuit was filed, Lizzo called allegations she and her production team sexually harassed her dancers “as unbelievable as they sound.”
In a suit filed in Los Angeles August 1, three women who worked as dancers for Lizzo make wide-ranging allegations against Lizzo herself, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. and her dance captain Shirlene Quigley.
The plaintiffs allege a long pattern of sexual harassment, along with religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment.
“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized,” Lizzo wrote on Instagram. “Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed. 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.”
Among the numerous allegations made by the women were that Lizzo pressured one of the women, Arianna Davis, to touch and otherwise engage dancers at a nude cabaret in Amsterdam’s red light district. Davis also alleges Lizzo, who has made body-positivity her stock-in-trade, “fat-shamed” her after gaining weight.
Further, Davis says Quigley pushed her Christian beliefs on to dancers both while on tour and when she was acting as a judge on the Amazon reality show “Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.” Davis said she told Quigley she was a virgin and Quigley made that fact public during interviews and posted about it on social media.
Davis and her co-plaintiffs said they were made to “reaudition” for their roles as dancers and that the process was hostile and humiliating.
In her response, Lizzo seems to allude to that process.
“As an artist I have always been very passionate about what I do. I take my music and my performances seriously because at the end of the day I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans. With passion comes hard work and high standards. Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never been my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team,” she wrote
Lizzo concluded by saying her public stances on both body- and sex-positivity should make it clear the allegations are false.
“I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not,” she wrote. “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. 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.”
Since the lawsuit was filed, Lizzo has lost hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. In addition, Oscar nominated director Sophia Nahli Allison said she left a role directing a documentary about Lizzo in 2019 because Lizzo treated her with “disrespect” and that the singer was “arrogant and unkind.”