It’s been a few weeks since three of Lizzo’s former backup dancers filed a civil lawsuit against the artist, citing sexual harassment and and a hostile work environment — a lawsuit that has sparked a lot of backlash for the singer in the days since it was filed.

“These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” Lizzo said in a statement posted on social media Aug. 3. “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,” Lizzo continued, per The New York Times. “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.”

Here are the latest updates regarding the lawsuit and backlash.

Related
Lizzo says ‘cancel culture is appropriation,’ has become ‘misused and misdirected’
How did Lizzo end up playing James Madison’s flute in the Library of Congress?

What is the Lizzo lawsuit about?

In a civil lawsuit filed by three of Lizzo’s former backup dancers on Aug. 1, the singer has been accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, per The Associated Press. The defendants include Lizzo, her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and dance captain Shirlene Quigley.

“Plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez make numerous charges including sexual, religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment,” The Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit cites an “overtly sexual” work environment that involved “outings where nudity and sexuality were a focal point,” The New York Times reported.

Related
Lizzo’s emotional Emmys speech: “We need to tell more stories”

“The dancers say that Lizzo paid undue attention to the weight gain of one of the plaintiffs, repeatedly yelled and cursed at performers, and invited them to attend events as spectators without disclosing that there would be nudity,” per The Washington Post.

Davis, specifically, claims Lizzo shamed her for weight gain before getting fired — an allegation that has generated a lot of disappointment online from fans, considering Lizzo has made body positivity a pillar of her career. Davis was fired in May for recording a meeting where Lizzo was giving feedback about her dancers’ performances, per The Associated Press.

In the lawsuit, Davis says Lizzo asked her “why she seemed less bubbly and vivacious than she did prior to the tour starting” — questions she alleges were “thinly veiled concerns about (her) weight gain, which Lizzo had previously called attention to after noticing it at the South by Southwest music festival,” per The Hollywood Reporter.

Davis says Lizzo never explicitly asked about her weight gain, but claims she was left with the “impression that she needed to explain her weight gain and disclose intimate personal details about her life in order to keep her job,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I believe she was trying to allude to the fact that I was gaining weight in a way that she wouldn’t get canceled, if that makes sense,” Davis told CBS News. “It was not a like, ‘You’re fat, you’re fired.’ It was never ‘you’re gaining too much weight,’ it was never blatant, it was very nuanced.”

Lizzo also allegedly told the dancers they should be grateful since dancers typically get fired for weight gain, per CBS News.

“Everything that she stands for as an artist is a big reason as to why I think people stand behind her as much as they do,” Williams told CBS News. “To me, I just couldn’t sit with the fact that this was happening behind the scenes, and this is a big part of her fan base, but she’s kind of contradicting everything she stands for behind-the- scenes.” 

Davis and Williams were fired in the spring of this year, while Rodriguez resigned shortly after, The New York Times reported.


Lizzo responds to the lawsuit

Lizzo said she is passionate about her work and holds her dancers to 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,” she said in her statement.

The artist specifically addressed the claims of sexual harassment and weight-shaming in her statement.

“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 said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “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.”


Lizzo faced backlash

Shortly following news of the lawsuit, a headline on a Vanity Fair article read, “Lizzo’s dethroning has been swift.”

The night the lawsuit broke, Beyonce reportedly skipped over Lizzo’s name in “Break My Soul (Queen’s Remix)” at a concert. In the song, Lizzo’s name typically appears alongside artists like Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj, honoring Black women in the entertainment industry, CNN reported. But recent news indicates that Beyonce has inserted Lizzo’s name back in the song, and even shouted “Lizzo! I love you, Lizzo!” at a recent concert, per Variety.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Lizzo has lost more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, per The New York Post. The annual Made in America festival — which this year featured Lizzo among its headliners — announced on Aug. 8 that it would be canceled, citing “severe circumstances outside of production control,The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Lizzo has also reportedly been dropped from consideration for the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show, per Yahoo! Entertainment.

Former employees of Lizzo have expressed support for the lawsuit, per The Independent. Filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison opened up about a negative experience working with Lizzo a few years ago and offered support to the dancers who filed the lawsuit.

“This kind of abuse of power happens far too often,” Allison said in a statement, per USA Today. “Much love and support to the dancers.”

The lawsuit has generated significant criticism online, with many fans calling out the alleged discrepancy between Lizzo’s treatment of her dancers behind the scenes and her public image of empowerment and body positivity.

“Lizzo’s dancers made the show for me,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “If this is all true what a hypocrite. You can’t say live in your own skin and then criticize the dancers for gaining weight.”


Lizzo also has her fair share of supporters

But many fans online have also come to the singer’s defense, saying they will wait for the lawsuit to play out before making a judgment. On Aug. 17, members of Lizzo’s current dance crew issued a statement of support.

“We had the time of our lives on The Special Tour. We have been so honored to share the stage with such amazing talent,” the dancers wrote on Instagram, per USA Today. “The commitment to character and culture taking precedence over every movement and moment has been one of the greatest lessons and blessings that we could possibly ask for.

“Thank you to Lizzo for shattering limitations and kicking in the doorway for the Big Grrrl and Big Boiii dancers to do what we love,” the dancers continued. “You have created a platform where we have been able to parallel our passion with a purpose! Not only for us, but for women and all people breaking barriers.”

Lizzo previously addressed the backlash she has received and thanked people who have reached out to her to show support.

“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,” she said in her statement.

Just last month, Lizzo received wide praise for her interaction with a young fan in Australia who had been bullied on social media.

“They always tell me I’m not good enough,” the fan told Lizzo during a concert in Sydney, per CNN.

Lizzo proceeded to invite the fan onstage and put her arm around her, telling the audience, “The words that we say have a long-lasting effect on people.”


The lawsuit has been filed — what happens next?

The dancers responded to Lizzo’s statement, calling it “disheartening.”

“Personally, looking at the response from Lizzo was so disheartening because she was there,” Davis said on “CNN This Morning,” per CNN. “She was there and to fix your hand, to write on a piece of paper that you discredit everything we’re saying is incredibly frustrating.”

Ron Zambrano, the attorney representing the three former dancers, told NBC News that Lizzo’s “denial of this reprehensible behavior only adds to our clients’ emotional distress.”

“Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans,” Zambrano said. “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.”

Zambrano also told NBC News that he is reviewing allegations from at least six other dancers who toured with Lizzo.

Moving forward, Diana Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law, told The New York Times that it can be hard to prove a hostile work environment in the entertainment industry and that a settlement would be likely.

“Employment discrimination plaintiffs don’t fare particularly well in court,” Reddy told The New York Times.

Marty Singer, an attorney for Lizzo, told NBC News the lawsuit is “without merit” and that he is “confident that Lizzo will be completely vindicated in this matter.”