(The Hill) – A group of dancers is suing Lizzo, claiming they were “exposed to an overtly sexual atmosphere that permeated their workplace” while on tour with the “About Damn Time” singer.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the three dancers, accuses Lizzo, her production company and another employee of “creating a hostile, abusive work environment and making their working conditions intolerable.”
Filed by the firm West Coast Employment Lawyers on behalf of Arianna Davis, Noelle Rodriguez and Crystal Williams, the lawsuit claims Lizzo pressured some of the plaintiffs into participating in a “severely uncomfortable” nude photo shoot, forced them into a “sexually charged and uncomfortable environment” with nude performers at an Amsterdam nightclub and required the trio to undergo a “brutal” and “excruciating” 12-hour audition in order to keep their jobs.
The group, two of whom were former contestants on Amazon’s award-winning Prime Video series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” said they felt pressured to attend an evening out in Amsterdam with the 35-year-old music star, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, or risk losing their jobs as dancers on her “Special Tour.”
But while at a nightclub in the city’s Red Light District, “things quickly got out of hand.”
“Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers,” according to the lawsuit, and she “began to pressure a member of her security team to participate in the night’s debauchery.”
“Plaintiffs were aghast with how little regard Lizzo showed for the bodily autonomy of her employees and those around her, especially in the presence of many people whom she employed,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that after accusing some of the dancers of drinking before performances, Lizzo required the cast members to “re-audition” for their spots on the tour.
“The re-audition was brutal as the dancers were not allowed a break,” according to the lawsuit, which claims one of the plaintiffs “eventually lost control of her bladder” and had to dance “in soiled clothes.”
The complaint also accuses Lizzo’s management team of treating the Black performers differently from the rest of the dance squad.
Lizzo, known for promoting body positivity in interviews and in her music, expressed concerns about one of the plaintiffs appearing “less bubbly and vivacious,” according to the lawsuit. Lizzo’s remarks, it alleged, were really “thinly veiled concerns about Ms. Davis’s weight gain, which Lizzo had previously called attention to after noticing it at the South by Southwest music festival.”
The plaintiffs also say they were singled out while trying to negotiate financial agreements for the tour.
“Only the dance cast — comprised of full-figured women of color — were ever spoken to in this manner, giving plaintiffs the impression that these comments were charged with racial and fat-phobic animus,” the lawsuit said.
Representatives for Lizzo didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
“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 not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing,” Ronald Zambrano, the dancers’ attorney, said in a statement.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.