Lizzo responds to allegations of sexual harassment from former dancers: ‘I am not the villain’
Pop superstar Lizzo has addressed allegations of sexual harassment and weight-shaming in a new statement shared on social media.
Earlier this week (1 August), three of Lizzo’s former dancers came forward to accuse Lizzo of creating a “hostile work environment”, and filed a lawsuit against the Grammy award winner.
The three plaintiffs, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, accused the singer – whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson – and her dance captain Shirlene Quigley of a series of incidents that allegedly took place between 2021 to 2023.
The allegations, which have been widely reported, leading to an outpouring of shock and upset from Lizzo’s fans, include sexual, racial and religious harassment. However, not every claim was brought against every defendant.
In a statement shared on Lizzo’s social media pages, she shot down the allegations made against her as “unbelievable” and “outrageous” and said that she is “not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be”.
“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” she began the post.
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“My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticised… 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 part of their legal action, Davis and Williams have claimed that they were unfairly dismissed after Lizzo allegedly accused them of drinking before a performance, and subjected them to an “excruciating” 12-hour audition.
In her response, Lizzo did not deny that some members of her tour entourage had been dismissed, writing that “hard decisions” have to be made due to the “high standards” required for a successful tour.
“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,” she said. “With passion comes hard work and high standards. Sometimes 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.”
One major bombshell accusation filed as part of the lawsuit involved Lizzo reportedly “inviting cast members [from her tour] to take turns touching the nude performers” while in a club in Amsterdam earlier this year.
The “Good As Hell” singer was said to have invited her tour cast members to catch “dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas”.
Plaintiff Ms Davis was then pressured “to touch the breasts of one of the nude women” and was forced to decline “four times” as Lizzo “goaded her”, the lawsuit continues.
Other accusations included in the case involve racial harassment “charged with racial and fat-phobic animus”, after the tour dancers asked to be compensated for their downtime during the tour at a rate of 50 per cent of their weekly pay.
The plaintiffs allege that they were scolded and offered 25 per cent, with “only the dance cast, comprised of full-figured women of colour” being rebuked in this manner.
Lizzo seemingly refuted the allegations in her statement, writing: “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.”
She rounded off her response by declaring that she would “not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed”.
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