On Aug. 1, three of Lizzo’s former employees filed a lawsuit accusing her of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
The employees in question — Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez — are being represented by lawyer Ron Zambrano, who said in a statement: “The stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly, while privately, she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing.”
Lizzo’s production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, and dance captain, Shirlene Quigley, are also named in the lawsuit alongside the singer, though each of them is facing different allegations.
The suit alleges that Lizzo once pressured her dancers to participate in a sex show that took place inside a strip club in Amsterdam. According to the former employees’ claims, Lizzo began "inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers" — which Arianna allegedly declined to do four times — and "eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas."
The lawsuit also alleges that Lizzo shamed — and later fired — a dancer over their weight gain, and that she had her dancers do an “excruciating” 12-hour rehearsal. The former employees claimed that if the singer didn’t like their performances, they’d be fired.
Ever since the lawsuit was filed, Lizzo’s former creative director, Quinn Wilson, and dancer Courtney Hollinquest have publicly spoken out in support of Arianna, Crystal, and Noelle. Meanwhile, director Sophia Nahli Allison alleged that she refused to film the singer’s documentary after she treated her with “disrespect.”
As a result, Lizzo has faced growing backlash since the former employees’ claims were made public — and on Aug. 3, she addressed the lawsuit in a lengthy statement shared to her social media pages.
Describing the past few days as “overwhelmingly disappointing,” Lizzo claimed that her former dancers’ allegations are “false.”
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” she wrote.
“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 added.
“With passion comes hard work and high standards. Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it's never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren't valued as an important part of the team,” she continued.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Lizzo went on to deny the claims that she fired an employee over their weight: “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.”
She added, “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.”
While some people have since shown their support for Lizzo in light of her statement, others suggested that she was seemingly “justifying” the alleged behavior” at points — namely when she highlighted that she’s “very open” with her sexuality.
Other IG users expressed that they were “beyond disappointed” with Lizzo’s statement as they accused her of “diminishing the victims’ claims.”
Presumably as a result, Lizzo’s follower count has dropped significantly over the past 24 hours.
According to statistics site Social Blade, Lizzo lost a total of 132,942 Instagram followers the same day she posted her statement denying her former employees’ claims.
In the hours since, she’s lost a further 22,139, bringing her total number of lost followers over the past 24 hours up to 155,081.
What’s more, Lizzo lost a total of 34,604 Instagram followers on Aug. 1 — the day the suit was filed — and Aug. 2, the day before she spoke out. This means she’s lost almost 200,000 followers since the allegations came to light.