The verbal clash between Lizzo and a trio of dancers suing the Grammy winner for sexual harassment, fostering a “hostile work environment,” discrimination and more has seen the gloves come off — at least when it comes to the lawyers.
“Our clients aren’t afraid of Singer or his empty threats or his victim shaming,” Neama Rahmani, attorney for dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, told Deadline on Wednesday after Lizzo’s lawyer Marty Singer said earlier in the day that her clients’ case is peppered with a “range of factual inaccuracies.”
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“I’ve handled thousands of cases, including prosecuting drug cartels, so we have no plans to back down,” the Los Angeles-based Rahmani said. “Let’s see if Singer can actually try a case in a courtroom instead of the media.”
In the complaint against Lizzo, Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc and Lizzo’s dance team head Shirlene Quigley seeking unspecified damages, former Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls contestants Davis and Williams, plus Rodriguez, allege they were body-shamed, put through a self-described “excruciating” audition for their jobs after they were accused of drinking on the clock, and held to prohibitive “soft hold” retainers. Having an immediate harsh impact on Lizzo with her fans and more, the suit also alleges that the dancers were forced to attend and participate in sex shows while on tour (like at Paris’ Crazy Horse cabaret), had their virginity mocked, suffered “false imprisonment” and were subjected to religious diatribes.
Building off statements he made Tuesday, Singer (no stranger to the pugilistic approach for his clients) ripped into the damning complaint filed by the former tour dancers earlier this month, noting there are photos of the plaintiffs and Lizzo having a blast backstage at Crazy Horse as well as agreements teh dancers inked to stay on the third leg of Lizzo’s The Special Tour this spring — agreements that came after the allegations in question occurred.
“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 actually proven by the facts,” Singer said.
“The lawsuit is a sham,” Singer added. “Lizzo intends to sue for malicious prosecution after she prevails and these specious claims are dismissed.”
Singer added of the plaintiffs: “Clearly, even at this early stage of the process, their case has been irreparably damaged.”
Not so much, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Rahmani said today:
We’ve addressed all these instances where the plaintiffs appear to be happy alongside Lizzo during their time working with her. Of course, they wanted to keep their jobs. They had bills to pay just like everyone else but they finally had enough of the abuse. We stand by every claim in the lawsuit and look forward to trial. We’ve been hearing from other former employees sharing similar stories, and as seen in the Los Angeles Times article today about how Lizzo used intimate footage of her dancers without their approval in the 2022 HBO Max Love Lizzo documentary, we’re seeing even more of a pattern of just how much Lizzo thinks of those who work for her. Clearly, not very much.
After taking two days to initially respond to what Davis, Williams and Rodriguez claim went down behind the scenes, Lizzo herself called the allegations “too outrageous not to be addressed.” In an Instagram post, Lizzo — real name Melissa Jefferson — described the trio’s claims as “sensationalized and coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Bringing Singer on board fairly quickly to defend her, Lizzo described the days since the allegations emerged as “gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing.”
What is actually said in court may give a more specific sense of where this is all going to go next.
Lynette Rice contributed to this report.
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