Legal reps for the three dancers who have sued Lizzo have issued another forthright statement, this time regarding the musician’s apparent plan to countersue her former employees.
Lizzo’s team – the dancers’ lawyers claim – are employing the kind of “scare tactics, bullying and victim shaming” that is “exactly the behaviour employees face in the entertainment industry who feel they have no choice but to ‘suck it up’ for access and success”.
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez are all former members of Lizzo’s Big Grrrls dance outfit and have sued the musician and her touring company over allegations of inappropriate and unfair conduct.
A lawyer working for Lizzo, Marty Singer, this week told reporters that their lawsuit was a “sham”, full of allegations that are disputed by the evidence. He specifically cited a video from earlier this year in which Davis said that working with Lizzo had “been amazing” and “such a beautiful journey”, and also photos taken of a trip that the Big Grrrls dancers took to a club in Paris.
In their lawsuit, Davis, Williams and Rodriguez say they were pressured to “attend outings where nudity and sexuality were a focal point” and that Lizzo “disregarded any apprehension from plaintiffs”. But, Singer argued, photos of the plaintiffs at the Crazy Horse club in Paris showed them “happily carousing” with performers from a topless cabaret show.
Singer concluded: “These irrefutable photos and videos, along with additional substantial evidence, prove the glaring contradictions between what the plaintiffs claim in their bogus lawsuit and what is proven by the facts. The lawsuit is a sham. Lizzo intends to sue for malicious prosecution after she prevails and these specious claims are dismissed”.
Legal reps for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez had already hit out at Singer’s comments, insisting “our clients aren’t afraid of Singer or his empty threats or his victim shaming”.
They added “We’ve addressed all these instances where the plaintiffs appear to be happy alongside Lizzo during their time working with her”, explaining that the plaintiffs had to appear to be happy to keep their jobs.
But in a new statement, those lawyers have responded more specifically to Singer’s statement that his client “intends to sue for malicious prosecution”, which – in the context of US law – refers to people initiating legal action without proper justification to intimate or harass another party.
One of the lawyers working for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez – Ron Zambrano – says: “Lizzo’s threat to countersue for malicious prosecution is an insidious attempt at intimidation and delivers a chilling effect to all harassment victims in the workplace. The scare tactics, bullying and victim shaming coming from Lizzo’s team is exactly the behaviour employees face in the entertainment industry who feel they have no choice but to ‘suck it up’ for access and success”.
“Lizzo is trying to scare others from coming forward following the predictable path of promising a second trauma heaped upon them if they have the nerve to speak out”, he goes on. “Her team is merely trying to suppress the truth and hide her hypocrisy of publicising her brand as one of empowerment and body positivity while privately depriving women of their empowerment”.
“Lizzo certainly isn’t empowering women by way of her threats”, he continues, “rather she is disenfranchising them, but this lawsuit isn’t just about her. This sort of behaviour is pervasive in the entertainment industry. That doesn’t make it right, and it’s still illegal”.
“The entire point of employment law”, he concludes, “is to enable victims to speak freely without fear of intimidation, a nuance wholly missed by Lizzo and her team who have comfortably slipped into the ‘you’re the problem, not me’ script. Lizzo is emblematic of the overall issue with harassers and abusers who try to silence their accusers. To all victims, we assure you that you no longer have to remain silent. Fight back”.
Zambrano’s colleague Neama Rahmani adds: “Singer has no legal grounds to countersue on behalf of Lizzo and, by doing so, he would have to step inside a courtroom and expose his client and her lies to cross-examination at trial”.
“We have mountains of evidence and more people coming forward each day independently supporting the plaintiffs’ allegations”, he goes on. “He may be referring to the lawsuit against Lizzo as a ‘sham’ but the only thing that is a sham here is Singer’s media strategy of shaming the victims. We’ll take the moral high ground and fight for what’s right”.
We await to see how Lizzo now responds, and also whether any countersuit does materialise.