Lizzo has asked a judge to dismiss a harassment lawsuit filed against her by previous employees.
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Last month the pop star was sued by three former backup dancers for allegedly creating a hostile work environment and engaging in sexual harassment, among other claims. Lizzo has denied the allegations, saying that they are “false” and adding how “disappointing” it is to see her character “criticised”.
Now, in court documents filed on Wednesday (September 27) and independently viewed by Variety, Lizzo’s legal team has insisted that the case should be dismissed “in it’s entirety”.
However, the singer’s lawyers have accepted the claimants’ request for a jury trial should it proceed to that stage (Lizzo has also previously requested a trial by jury).
“Any and all claims to the contrary are ridiculous, and we look forward to proving so in a court of law,” Lizzo’s team wrote in its response.
The artist and her Big Grrrl touring company have denied “each and every allegation” made, the documents read.
“This is the first step of a legal process in which Lizzo and her team will demonstrate that they have always practiced what they’ve preached,” a spokesperson for Lizzo’s legal team said [via Variety]. “Whether it comes to promoting body positivity, leading a safe and supportive workplace or protecting individuals from any kind of harassment.”
The new documents also insist that “there was no injury, loss or damage” to the claimants.
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez are the claimants named in the suit.
Davis and Williams competed on the reality show Watch Out For The Big Grrrls to win the chance to join the singer’s troupe of backing dancers, while Rodriguez started dancing with Lizzo after appearing in her ‘Rumors’ video.
According to the lawsuit filed in August, all the women danced for Lizzo until earlier this year when Davis and Williams were fired and Rodriguez resigned shortly after.
The suit names Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. and her dance team captain Shirlene Quigley as defendants.
The alleged incident of sexual harassment mentioned in the suit supposedly took place in a strip club in Amsterdam, which they visited after a show earlier this year.
Lizzo is alleged to have bullied Davis into touching a nude performer, to the point where she led a chant goading her into doing so until she eventually gave in, despite declining multiple times.
The suit states that Lizzo “began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas,” continuing: “Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women.”
“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,” it continues.
The suit also alleges that Lizzo subjected the group to an “excruciating” audition, following 12 hours of rehearsal, after falsely accusing them of drinking on the job.
They also claimed that, in contradiction to the singer’s body positive ethos that she promotes in her music, she called attention to Davis’ weight gain by telling her she was “less committed” to her role and later berating and firing the dancer for recording a meeting because of a health condition.
The suit also includes allegations of religious and racial harassment, false imprisonment, interference with prospective economic advantage and more, but those allegations do not apply to all the defendants in the case.
Additionally, the suit does not specify a specific amount for damages that cover emotional distress including unpaid wages, loss of earnings and legal fees.
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On August 3, Lizzo has responded via a statement on her official social media channels in which she claimed that the allegations are “false”.
“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” the message began. “My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticised.”
The singer 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 sensationalised stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
She added: “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 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.”
Meanwhile, Lizzo has accepted the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award shortly after being named in another lawsuit, while also delivering a speech that seemed to reference her current legal troubles.
In a statement about the latest lawsuit, a spokesperson for Lizzo claimed that the lawsuit was “a bogus, absurd publicity-stunt lawsuit” from a person who “never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo”.
“We will pay this as much attention as it deserves. None.”
The post Lizzo asks judge to dismiss “ridiculous” harassment lawsuit appeared first on NME.