LOS ANGELES -- Two of Lizzo's former backup dancers spoke out at a news conference Wednesday after filing a lawsuit that accuses the Grammy-winning singer of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
The civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court claims Lizzo pressured the dancers to engage with nude performers at a club in Amsterdam and shamed one of them for her weight gain before firing her.
Plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez made numerous allegations including sexual, religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment. They accuse the Grammy winner and her production company of creating a hostile work environment.
"And that just, kind of, is just a surface-level summary," Williams said in an interview with ABC7, speaking alongside Davis and attorney Neama Rahmani. "There's so much that transpired."
The legal complaint seeks unspecified damages from Melissa Viviane Jefferson, known professionally as Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and Shirlene Quigley, captain of the performer's dance team.
"It's just really disheartening, and I feel like I lost myself a little bit on that job," Davis said.
The court filing claims that after performing a concert in Amsterdam, Lizzo and her crew attended a sexually themed show at a club in the city's notorious Red Light District where "Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers" and led a chant pressuring Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club.
"I didn't want to be there and I didn't want to touch that nude performer," Davis said. "She started a chant and said, 'Hey, Arianna, it's your turn, touch the performer.' I shortly left after that, because at that point it wasn't even worth my job."
"These are note things that are appropriate for any work environment," Rahmani said. "And when my clients complained about it, they were terminated."
"Finally, the chorus became overwhelming, and a mortified Ms. Davis acquiesced in an attempt to bring an end to the chants," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs were aghast with how little regard Lizzo showed for the bodily autonomy of her employees and those around her, especially in the presence of many people whom she employed."
Lizzo, who routinely champions body positivity, is also accused of calling out Davis for her weight gain after accusing the dancer of not being committed to her role. Davis was fired in May for recording a meeting during which Lizzo had given out notes to dancers about their performances, according to the complaint.
"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," Lizzo said Thursday in a statement posted on social media. "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."
Quigley, who served as a judge on the singer's reality show "Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," is accused in the lawsuit of pushing her Christian beliefs onto dancers. The court filing claims Quigley referred to Davis as a "non-believer" and told co-workers that "No job and no one will stop me from talking about the Lord."
Earlier this year, Lizzo won the Grammy for record of the year for her hit single "About Damn Time." A global tour supporting her fourth studio album, 2022's "Special," wrapped up last month.
"These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized," Lizzo said in the statement. "Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed."