Lizzo is speaking out after three of her former dancers filed a lawsuit against her for allegedly creating a toxic work environment.
“These last few days have gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized,” Lizzo began in a lengthy statement on Thursday, August 3, calling the allegations against her “false,” “unbelievable” and “too outrageous not to be addressed.”
She continued: “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. 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.”
Lizzo wrote that “with passion comes hard work and high standards,” claiming that she has to make “hard decisions” but doesn’t intentionally make people not feel “valued as an important part of the team.” She added that she is “not here to be looked at as a victim” but is also “not the villain” that she has been “portrayed” as.
“There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight,” she wrote. “I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”
Us Weekly confirmed on Tuesday, August 1, that Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez sued Lizzo, her tour company and dance captain Shirlene Quigley, claiming they experienced a hostile work environment, religious harassment, disability discrimination, sexual harassment and more while working with Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson.
In the suit, the dancers recalled several instances of being uncomfortable performing certain tasks, including participating in a nude photo shoot for Lizzo’s reality show.
“Ms. Davis broke down in tears on set while struggling to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity and putting her body on display against her will,” the lawsuit read. “This experience foreshadowed the sexually charged and uncomfortable environment Lizzo’s employees would be forced to endure.”
The trio also recalled an unsavory trip to the Red Light District in Amsterdam while on tour. While Lizzo invited her crew to the optional outing, the dancers felt “obligated” to go because they were afraid of “losing their jobs.”
“While at Bananenbar, things quickly got out of hand. 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,” the documents stated. “Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club.”
After the allegations came to light, Sophia Nahli Allison — who briefly worked with Lizzo to film a documentary — shared her experience with the “Truth Hurts” singer.
“I usually do not comment on anything pop culture related. But, in 2019, I traveled a bit with Lizzo to be the director of her documentary,” Allison, 36, wrote via Twitter at the time. “I walked away after about 2 weeks. I was treated with such disrespect by her,” she alleged.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker — who was inspired to share her experience after hearing about the lawsuit — went on to explain that she found Lizzo to be “arrogant, self-centered and unkind” in their brief interaction.
“I was not protected and was thrown into a sh—y situation with little support,” she claimed. “My spirit said to run as fast as you f—king can and I’m so grateful I trusted my gut. I felt gaslit and was deeply hurt, but I’ve healed.”