In the face of legal accusations of assault, harassment and discrimination, Lizzo’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) filing to dismiss has been met with an opposition memo that counters what it describes as an attempt to protect the singer from consequences under the label of free speech.
The anti-SLAPP filing arrived on Oct. 27 in addition to denials by her representation, statements from other dancers and staffers testifying to her good character, as well as pushback from Lizzo herself. The singer asked the court to dismiss the harassment lawsuit for a variety of other reasons as well.
“Can a global celebrity be forever insulated from civil liability because all their conduct is protected as free speech under the anti-SLAPP statute?” lawyers for Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez rhetorically ask in a new opposition filing to the Grammy winner’s attempt to have the matter tossed out of court. “Defendant Lizzo asks this Court to rule in exactly that fashion. Fortunately for all victims of celebrity malfeasance, the law says otherwise.”
The plaintiffs behind the accusations include “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” dancers Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams, in addition to Noelle Rodriguez, who was hired in 2021 after performing in a music video for the singer and has since resigned from employment by Lizzo. Davis and Williams were fired.
“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,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Ron Zambrano said.
Filed on Aug. 1, the lawsuit accuses Lizzo of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. The memo summarizes eight causes of action related to conduct. One of the dancers says Lizzo pressured her to touch a nude performer at an Amsterdam strip club. The plaintiffs also accuse Lizzo of shaming a dancer for weight gain and then firing the dancer for recording a meeting due to a health condition.
“The moving party seeks to strike the Complaint because it is ‘based on [any other] conduct in furtherance of the exercise of … the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.”
Captain of Lizzo’s dance group Shirlene Quigley also faces allegations in the suit about constant preaching of her religious beliefs.
Fashion and wardrobe designer Asha Daniels, who worked on Lizzo’s 2023 tour, also filed a lawsuit accusing Lizzo of a “racially charged and illegal work environment.” The suit alleges that the singer’s management team made “racist and fatphobic comments mocking Black women.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
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