Lizzo has responded to allegations by her former dancers that they were sexually harassed, faced discrimination over their weight and religious choices, and suffered a hostile work environment created by her and Shirlene Quigley, captain of her performer’s dance team.
The plaintiffs, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez, filed a lawsuit this week seeking unspecified damages for sexual, religious, and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault, and false imprisonment.
The plaintiffs went into details about the treatment meted out to them, which included Lizzo pressuring them to engage in social activities blurring the lines between work and friendship, and forcing them to participate in sexual activities, which included throwing a dildo at a virgin dancer and in another case asking them to eat bananas out of the crotches of nude performers.
Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, along with her company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., is alleged to have created a hostile environment where one dancer soiled herself because she was afraid of losing her job during a 12-hour grueling rehearsal.
Lizzo denied all of the allegations in a post on Wednesday night.
“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 said in a response published to Instagram.
She continued, “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.”
The comments section of the post was split, with some calling out Lizzo for the vague and unrepenting post devoid of apology, while others also claimed that their experience with her was more positive.
“As someone who has actually worked with you and your crew. I can say Lizzo has created one of the most uplifting, fun, diverse, and supportive shows I’ve ever been apart of. Every single person dancer, Stage crew, and manager was so excited to be apart of the show because it honesty starts with Lizzo. She was so encouraging to every one of her dancers and guest she had. She really made me feel so special to be apart of her team and we had so many different types of queens. From different sizes to different culture backgrounds and every one of us felt loved and supported being on tour with her. Please don’t let this define you Lizzo. I will never forget how special you made us all feel working with you,” one person said.
“What a shitty f**king response,” another said.
“The double standard in these comments is astounding. When victims of sexual harassment or assault come forward against a man we say that women must first be believed before the facts can be investigated. But as soon as these same allegations are about a woman you happen to be a fan of, suddenly the alleged victims are lying opportunists. Look, when multiple people make the same claim of sexual harassment or assault against someone, we have to believe them until the facts indicate otherwise. Full stop,” another man said.
In the meantime, more than half a dozen other women who worked with Lizzo have made similar allegations against her as they shared their support for the victims. While fans continue to defend her, others have questioned why so many people would put their careers and futures at risk to go up against Lizzo unless the allegations are believable.