Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez told NewsNation in a “CUOMO” interview Wednesday they experienced a slew of hostile incidents that kept piling up while they were on tour.
“It was all of these different microaggressions and underlying things that were going on in our work environment that made it very hostile,” Williams said.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the three dancers, accuses Lizzo, her production company and another employee of “making their working conditions intolerable.”
In a statement released on social media Thursday morning, Lizzo called the allegations “outrageous,” “unbelievable” and “sensationalized.”
Lizzo is widely known for her body positivity messaging, but Davis says she experienced something completely different while on tour.
Davis claims in the lawsuit that Lizzo expressed concerns about her appearing “less bubbly and vivacious,” which were really “thinly veiled concerns about Ms. Davis’s weight gain, which Lizzo had previously called attention to after noticing it at the South by Southwest music festival.”
Davis told NewsNation that she was pulled into a private meeting with just Lizzo and a choreographer to discuss the matter.
“They disguised this as a safe space, but really, I do believe that they just wanted me to give them a reason as to why I was fatter now,” Davis said. “I felt cornered, so I ended up telling them that I do struggle with an eating disorder, and that I am in recovery and that it has never affected my job.”
Rodriguez also claims she was physically threatened by Lizzo the day before a show in Montreal, Canada, when she and other dancers were called into an “impromptu fitting” that was actually a meeting about Davis being fired.
It was at that meeting that Rodriguez aired her complaints about the treatment she and other dancers were allegedly subjected to.
“(Lizzo) then got upset that I told her I felt disrespected. She balled up her fist at me, and she said, ‘You’re so effing lucky right now, you’re so effing lucky,’ as she was inching her way towards me to hit me,” Davis said.
She claims Lizzo was restrained by a fellow dancer and yelled “bye (expletive)” while flipping her off as she was “dragged out of the room” by the other dancer.
“It was just too much to take, and it’s not in my character to go up on a stage every night and enable somebody that puts out this façade that she is this grand person, she stands up for people, she’s body positive, she stands up for self-love, when really she’s the complete opposite behind closed doors,” Rodriguez said in explaining her decision to resign.
The lawsuit also alleges that after accusing some of the dancers of drinking before performances, Lizzo required the cast members to “re-audition” for their spots on the tour.
Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, has not commented on the lawsuit. Earlier Wednesday, representatives for Lizzo didn’t immediately respond to NewsNation partner The Hill’s request for comment.
Davis emphasized that the trio’s experiences are not unique.
“It doesn’t matter who the employer is. In this industry, dancers specifically are treated like we cannot be human. We are held to a standard that is inhumane, and it doesn’t matter if the person employing you is a well-known, plus-size Black woman who you think will give you a safe space,” Davis said. “The biggest thing that people can take away is also that hurt people do hurt people.”
The Hill contributed to this report.