More of Lizzo‘s employees are expected to join the lawsuit against the singer for harassment and discrimination.
Ron Zambrano, the Employment Litigation Chair at West Coast Trial Lawyers, said in a statement to Us Weekly on Wednesday, August 9, that his firm is vetting claims from at least six more people with allegations of wrongful treatment.
“We have received at least six inquiries from other people with similar stories since we filed the complaint,” Zambrano said. “Noelle, Crystal and Arianna have bravely spoken out and shared their experiences, opening the door for others to feel empowered to do the same. Some of the claims we are reviewing involve allegations of a sexually charged environment and failure to pay employees and may be actionable, but it is too soon to say.”
“In this particular case, you know, we’re seeing witnesses come forward every single day that are supporting our client’s allegations,” he told Us. “These are individuals [who] might wanna become part of the lawsuit or [are] people that don’t wanna be a part of the lawsuit, but witnesses or just folks that are just saying anonymously that yes, the same thing happened to me. It’s very similar to the Me Too movement.”
Us confirmed earlier this month that three of the 35-year-old Grammy winner’s former backup dancers — Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez — filed a lawsuit against Lizzo after allegedly experiencing a hostile work environment, religious harassment, disability discrimination and sexual harassment. The suit also names Lizzo’s tour company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), and dance captain Shirlene Quigley.
The court documents, obtained by Us, include bombshell claims about how the dancers felt “obligated” to attend an outing in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. “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 lawsuit alleges. “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.”
Also included are allegations that dancers were weight-shamed, forced to participate in a nude photoshoot and subjected to a hostile work environment.
Lizzo broke her silence on the lawsuit on Thursday, August 3, slamming the claims as “false,” “unbelievable” and “too outrageous not to be addressed.”
“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 in a lengthy statement via Instagram. “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 claimed 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,” she wrote. “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. 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.”
Davis, Williams and Rodriguez later told Entertainment Tonight that they weren’t impressed with their former boss’ response. “I think for me, it’s just very interesting to be so open and genuine about the trauma that we experienced and to be open about the hurt that she caused us, for her to [respond back by] essentially gaslighting us,” Williams claimed on Thursday. “She never acknowledged any of the claims [directly] that we have brought forward to the table.”
While the trio weren’t pleased to hear Lizzo’s response, Rahmani exclusively told Us last week that they will likely feel comforted that others are coming forward to talk about their experiences working with Lizzo.
“There’s really strength in numbers and, you know, similar to the #MeToo movement that really addressed rich and powerful men, those aren’t the only people that can harass or discriminate against young women, especially the young women of color who really were in a position where their boss was discriminating against their medical condition and forcing their religious beliefs on them,” Rahmani told Us on August 2. “There are racial issues and, of course, the sexual harassment. They are beyond devastated. They lost their job, something that was their dream job, and I’m really trying to pick the pieces up right now.”
The lawyer added that the dancers are willing to take this case to trial.
“Either Lizzo was gonna come out, apologize, try to make things right, and maybe we would come to some sort of resolution, or, more likely, that she was gonna deny the allegations. And that’s exactly what happened,” Rahmani told Us on Wednesday. “But just because people deny something doesn’t mean it’s not true, and civil and criminal defendants do it all the time.”
He continued, “Now, in response to Liza’s allegations, what I’ll say is this: the folks that were allegedly behaving inappropriately, those were just the Black dancers, and these aren’t all disgruntled, fired employees. Noelle, one of our clients, quit when she saw how the other two were being treated, and this is someone that had danced with Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga. She has a lot of experience — and no one has treated her like Lizzo has.”
Rahmani said he and West Coast Trial Lawyers are “looking forward to presenting our case in a public courtroom to a jury of our peers.”
Reporting by Christina Garibaldi