Just hours after three former backup dancers for pop star Lizzo filed lawsuit against the singer Tuesday, accusing her of sexual harassment, fat shaming and creating a hostile work environment, three more former colleagues have come forward to say they witnessed or experienced mistreatment.
The female former colleagues include another backup dancer for Lizzo and a filmmaker hired to make a documentary about the singer, who said she left the project after two weeks because she “was treated with such disrespect” and “witnessed how self-centered, arrogant and unkind she is.”
“I felt gaslit and was deeply hurt, but I’ve healed,” filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison said on Instagram about the singer. “Reading these reports made me realize how dangerous a situation it was. This kind of abuse of power happens far too often. Much love and support to the dancers.”
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by three dancers, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez. The suit alleges a number of “excruciating” experiences endured by the dancers, which challenge Lizzo’s image as an icon of inclusivity and body positivity, NBC News and the Daily Beast reported.
Beyond a hostile work environment and sexual harassment, the 44-page complaint also alleges that Lizzo and her team were responsible for assault, racial and religious harassment, disability discrimination and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, the reports said. Among the more disturbing claims, the suit alleged that Lizzo pressured one of the dancers to touch the breasts of a nude performer at an Amsterdam club they visited in February and to touch or eat items handled by the club’s performers in an intimate way.
The suit furthermore alleges that the singer — known for celebrating her own plus-size physique and publicly supporting body positivity — called attention to one dancer’s weight gain and subjected the group to an “excruciating” audition after leveling false accusations that they were drinking on the job, NBC News and The Daily Beast reported. The suit also said that Shirley Quigley, the captain of Lizzo’s dance team, shared her own sexual fantasies, the Daily Mail also reported, while preaching her Christian beliefs and deriding one of the dancers as a “non-believer.” Quigley also allegedly critiqued those who had premarital sex and and publicly discussed the virginity of one of the plaintiffs.
Lizzo, Quigley and Lizzo’s production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., have yet to comment, NBC News reported.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Courtney Hollinquest, another former backup dancer, used Instagram Story to say that “this was very much my experience,” the Daily Mail reported. She shared the headline from the NBC News report on the lawsuit, clarified that she wasn’t part of the lawsuit and said, “Big shoutout to the dancers who had the courage to bring this to light.”
In another Instagram Story, Hollinquest said, “To know me is to know I love community — and that my forever mission is to create safe spaces, especially for BIPOC femmes,” the Daily Mail reported.
“This remains my purpose whether I’m dancing, creating TV or throwing events & has only strengthened through my experiences — good + bad,” Hollinquest also said.
Hollinquest’s original post prompted Quinn Wilson, who previously worked as Lizzo’s creative director, to write on Instagram Story that she, too, experienced what the dancers are alleging, the Daily Mail reported.
“Echoing what (Hollinquest) said,” Wilson wrote. “I haven’t been a part of that world for around three years, for a reason.”
“I very much applaud the dancers’ courage to bring this to light,” Wilson continued. “And I grieve parts of my own experience.”
Allison began her post by saying that she does not normally “comment on anything pop culture related,” before sharing that she traveled with Lizzo to be the director of a documentary about her, the Daily Mail reported. After saying she left the job after two weeks, she said, “‘I was not protected and I was thrown into a (expletive) situation with little support. My spirit said to run as fast as you can and I’m so grateful I trusted my gut.”
Ron Zambrano, the attorney representing the three former dancers in the suit, told NBC News that “the stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly.”
The suit does not specify a dollar amount for damages that cover emotional distress including unpaid wages, loss of earnings and attorney’s fees.
It remains to be seen if or how the the lawsuit will impact the singer’s popularity or body-positivity image, though Vulture reported that it apparently prompted Beyonce to refrain from mentioning Lizzo’s name while performing her remix of Madonna’s “Vogue” during her Renaissance tour stop in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Tuesday night. Typically, Beyonce shouts out Lizzo’s name in the remix but apparently wanted to avoid the controversy now growing around the pop star.