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Lizzo denies dancers’ claims

The US singer says allegations made against her by three of former dancers as "false" and "too outrageous to not be addressed"

By James Hanley on 03 Aug 2023

Lizzo has responded to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against her by three of her former dancers, calling the allegations “false” and “too outrageous to not be addressed”.

The American singer and her touring company Big Grrrl Big Touring (BGBT) face a string of claims from dancers Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis and Noelle Rodriguez, dating between 2021 and 2023.

Legal action filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court accuses Lizzo of creating a hostile work environment in addition to allegations of religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment. The 35-year-old and choreographer Tanisha Scott are also accused of body-shaming.

Lizzo, whose real name Melissa Jefferson, has denied the claims in a lengthy social media post, in which she describes the last few days as “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing”.

“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” she writes. “These sensationalised stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.

“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 my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”

“I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticise or terminate an employee because of their weight”

Davis and Williams were introduced to Lizzo in March 2021 when they were contestants on the star’s Amazon Prime reality TV show, with Rodriguez joining the team after being brought in to perform on Lizzo’s Rumors music video. Williams and Davis were both eventually dismissed.

Lizzo recently wrapped up her 2022/23 The Special Tour with a series of dates in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, having played a slate of European festival dates in the summer at Belsonic (Northern Ireland) Glastonbury (England), Mad Cool (Spain), Open’er (Poland), Lollapalooza Stockholm (Sweden), Roskilde (Denmark), NOS Alive (Portugal) and North Sea Jazz (Netherlands).

“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,” adds Lizzo in her statement. “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.

“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 criticise 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.”


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