Oct 30, 2023 2 min read

Lizzo's touring company seeks dismissal of lawsuit filed by former dance team members

Lizzo’s company Big Grrrl Big Touring has responded to the lawsuit filed by three former members of the musician’s dance team, accusing the dancers of unprofessional conduct and seeking dismissal of the case on anti-SLAPP grounds

Lizzo's touring company seeks dismissal of lawsuit filed by former dance team members

Lizzo's Big Grrrl Big Touring company last week formally responded to the lawsuit filed in August by three former members of the musician's dance team, urging the LA Superior Court to dismiss the case.

The new legal filing accuses the three dancers of unprofessional behaviour while on tour with Lizzo, while also providing declarations from eighteen other people who have worked with the musician that dispute the various allegations made in the original lawsuit.

Dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez accuse Lizzo and Big Grrrl Big Touring of creating a toxic working environment, sexual harassment and other improper conduct. Meanwhile, their lawyer has called the musician a hypocrite, for promoting diversity and body positivity in public, while "privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralising”.

But - according to Variety - Lizzo's legal rep, Martin D Singer, says the lawsuit is a “fabricated sob story” filed "out of spite and in pursuit of media attention, public sympathy and a quick payday with minimal effort".

Last week's motion to dismiss insists that this dispute began with the unprofessional conduct of the three dancers, who - it claims - "missed flights, arrived late and hungover to rehearsals and drunk to performances, entered into consensual sexual relationships with male crew members on tour [and] exhibited a rapid decline in the quality of their dancing and professionalism".

One of the complaints in the original lawsuit was that “Lizzo pressured plaintiffs and all her employees to attend outings where nudity and sexuality were a focal point and disregarded any apprehension from plaintiffs”. A team night out in Amsterdam was cited in particular.

However, in one of the declarations submitted to the court last week, another dancer - Melissa Locke - says she didn't attend that night out, but did speak to Davis and Rodriguez about it the next day.

“They were very enthusiastic about what a great night out they had", she writes. "I remember telling them, ‘That sounds like so much fun, I wish you had woken me up to go with you'. They agreed that it was a fun night and told me that they went out in the red light district after. They did not complain or sound upset in any way".

Another declaration disputes the claim that Lizzo and her team weight-shamed the dancers behind the scenes. Asia Banks writes: “I would say that I was the biggest dancer on the tour. Lizzo always went out of her way to make me feel secure and confident in my body, including by making sure I was comfortable in every single costume for the show".

Friday's motion seeks dismissal of the three dancers' lawsuit on anti-SLAPP grounds, utilising laws designed to stop allegedly meritless or frivolous lawsuits that seek to restrict a defendant's freedom of speech.

However, a lawyer working for the dancers, Neama Rahmani, said in a statement: “Even a first-year law student can see that ‘free speech’ does not cover Lizzo and her team’s illegal sexual harassment and racial, religious and disability discrimination".

“The defence’s declarants", he went on, "are either defendants accused of wrongdoing or people who are on Lizzo’s payroll, and their statements can’t be considered by the judge. That’s a question for the jury".

He then concluded: “Our clients have dozens of independent witnesses who support their stories, and we continue to receive inquiries from other former Lizzo employees who want to be new plaintiffs".

Lizzo herself also filed a motion to dismiss in relation to the dancers' lawsuit last month, denying all the allegations that have been made.

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