Lizzo says she ‘won’t let good work be overshadowed’ amid US lawsuit allegations

Singer Lizzo has issued a statement in the wake of allegations about her (Yui Mok/PA)
Singer Lizzo has issued a statement in the wake of allegations about her (Yui Mok/PA)

Pop star Lizzo has described the last few days as “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing” as she responded to allegations of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment by three former dancers.

The About Damn Time singer, 35, said on Thursday in a statement that the claims are “as unbelievable as they sound” and insisted she “will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this”.

It comes after a US complaint was filed by dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez against Lizzo and her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring (BGBT), claiming they were subject to sexual, religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment, among other allegations.

Lizzo, real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson, said in her statement on Twitter: “My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticised.

“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.”

According to West Coast Employment Lawyers, who are representing the plaintiffs, Ms Davis and Ms Williams were eventually fired from their positions, while Ms Rodriguez resigned over the “appalling behaviour”.

Lizzo continued: “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.

Glastonbury Festival 2023
Lizzo performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset (Yui Mok/PA)

“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.

“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 criticise or terminate an employee because of their weight.”

She concluded the statement saying: “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.”

The Grammy-winning US singer is known for her advocacy of body-positivity and inclusivity in her music, with her plus-sized performers hired through her reality show, Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.

In the filed complaint, the dancers accused Lizzo of calling attention to Ms Davis’ weight gain and later berating and then firing her “on the spot” after she recorded a meeting because of a health condition.

Lawyer Ron Zambrano of West Coast Employment Lawyers, who represents Ms Davis, Ms Williams and Ms Rodriguez in the US case, said: “Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans.

“Her denial of this reprehensible behaviour only adds to our clients’ emotional distress. The dismissive comments and utter lack of empathy are quite telling about her character and only serve to minimise 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 demoralising her dancers and flagrantly violating the law.”

Part of the lawsuit, obtained by the PA news agency, details a trip to Amsterdam’s red light district, in February 2023, in which performers were allegedly pressured to come along on nights out through fear of losing their jobs.

One visit to a club named Bananenbar allegedly resulted in performers being encouraged to touch nude performers by Lizzo.