Lizzo is addressing a lawsuit filed against her by three of her former dancers.
via: Today Show
“The last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” she wrote on Instagram. “My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized. Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.”
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, three dancers who previously performed with Lizzo, filed a lawsuit Aug. 1 in Los Angeles against the singer and her team, alleging she pressured one of them in an Amsterdam strip club to touch a nude performer and subjected them to an “excruciating” audition after falsely accusing them of drinking on the job. The lawsuit also included claims of weight-shaming, and racial and religious harassment.
The lawsuit names Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, and dance captain Shirlene Quigley as defendants. Not every claim was brought against each defendant in the suit. NBC News’ efforts to reach the production company for comment were unsuccessful.
In her statement, Lizzo pushed back against the dancers’ allegations.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”
In response to Lizzo’s statement, the dancers’ attorney Ron Zambrano said in a statement to NBC News that her “denial of this reprehensible behavior” adds to his clients’ distress.
“The dismissive comments and utter lack of empathy are quite telling about her character and only serve to minimize the trauma she has caused the plaintiffs and other employees who have now come forward sharing their own negative experiences. While Lizzo notes it was never her intention ‘to make anyone feel uncomfortable,’ that is exactly what she did to the point of demoralizing her dancers and flagrantly violating the law.”
She said she does not wish to be “looked at as a victim” but is also not “the villain.”
“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.”
Lizzo also appeared to address accusations from Davis, one of the dancers, that Lizzo had weight-shamed her. The suit alleges Lizzo and a choreographer called out Davis’ weight gain in “thinly veiled” concerns. Davis said in an Aug. 2 interview on TODAY that what she experienced was “never blatant fatphobia.”
“It was very nuanced and very underlying underneath all the other issues that were going on,” Davis said. “I just had this feeling that they had a problem with the way I was gaining weight and looking different and that I wasn’t ‘the same’ as when they first cast me.”
Davis and Williams say in the suit they were fired earlier this year. The third dancer, Rodriguez, says she resigned.
In her statement, Lizzo said she knows what it feels like to be body shamed and “would absolutely never criticize 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,” she said.