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Scuse Me? Lizzo Facing Lawsuit for a Toxic Workplace

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Posted on February 5, 2024

American rapper and superstar Lizzo is under fire for allegedly fostering a toxic work environment. Her former tour stylist, Asha Daniels, and former dancers Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams have filed a lawsuit against Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson; her production company, Big Grrrl Touring, Inc.; and her tour manager, Carlina Gugliotta, for sexual and racial harassment, disability discrimination, retaliation, and assault. 

During Daniels’ time on the road with Lizzo, she claims she was “subjected to a culture of racism and bullying,” Daniels was fired after complaining about wardrobe manager, Amanda Nomura, for referring to the performers as “fat,” “useless,” and “dumb,” and forcing them to change in front of a mostly white, male stage crew who would “lewdly gawk” at them, according to the lawsuit.  

The former dancers were allegedly interrogated by Lizzo about their weight and pressured to engage in sexually explicit acts at sex shows. Daniels, Davis, and Williams claim that while on tour in the Netherlands, Lizzo invited them for a night out that ended in the city’s Red Light District. This night got out of hand when the women in their filing stated that the pop star began inviting them to ‘take turns touching the nude performers’ amongst other crude acts.  

ABC News reports that Lizzo has denied the allegations, adding that the accusations are “coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.” 

Additional details of the case include disability discrimination and abuse. An excerpt of the complaint states that “On several occasions, Nomura made statements and/or took physical actions to threaten Plaintiff and the entire crew: (1) she threatened Plaintiff and others that she would “kill a b***h” and “stab a b***h” when she could not find her medication. (2) she shoved a crew member in retaliation for revealing she was threatening to quit. (3) Nomura snatched food out of a local worker’s hand for merely attempting to take an assigned break.” 

The former employees also state that the staff was being “denied breaks” and forced to work intense schedules.  

Daniels recalled when Nomura caused her to sprain her ankle while attempting to return a clothing rack. “Not only was Plaintiff denied medical treatment (on this occasion and others), but was also forced to be on her feet the majority of the day and denied any rest,” the lawsuit states.  

Lizzo defends herself by saying, ‘l 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.” 

Impact on Former Employees 

The women are disappointed with the lack of attention and resolve their complaints received from Lizzo and the team. Williams said she finds it “sad” that the group was not met with “acknowledgment of our feelings when her brand is to preach about women empowerment.” 

Their expectations of the environment and experience they would have while working for this Emmy Award winner were drastically different from their reality.  

“I was listening to this Black woman on this huge stage have this message of self-love and caring for others and being empathetic and being strong and standing up for others,” she said. “And I was witnessing myself, the dancers and the background vocalists and my local team in every city be harassed and bullied regularly,” Asha Daniels told NBC News the day before she filed her lawsuit. Davis added, “I’m honestly mind blown at the hypocrisy just of everything that you stand for. You’re contradicting right before our very eyes.”  

Results from the lawsuit are pending. What do you think about these allegations? Share your opinions and comments.