In a recent legal development, Grammy-winning artist Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, has been denied her attempt to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against her by three of her former background dancers.
On Friday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the case, brought forth by Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez, will proceed.
The lawsuit, filed on August 1, 2023, alleges a range of workplace violations, including abuse, harassment, discrimination, and various instances of misconduct during their time working for Lizzo and her company, Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc.
Los Angeles attorney Ron Zambrano, representing the plaintiffs, expressed satisfaction with the ruling, stating, “We’re very pleased with the judge’s ruling, and we absolutely consider it a victory on balance.”
While some allegations were dismissed, including claims of fat-shaming and a nude photoshoot, many other serious allegations, such as sexual harassment, racial and religious discrimination, false imprisonment, and assault, will proceed to trial.
Zambrano said that the ruling underscores that celebrities, including Lizzo, are not immune to accountability for reprehensible conduct. He expressed eagerness to move forward with the case, stating, “We now look forward to conducting discovery and preparing the case for trial.”
In response, Lizzo’s spokesperson, Stefan Friedman, told Entertainment Tonight, “We are pleased that Judge Epstein wisely threw out all or part of four of the plaintiffs’ causes of action. Lizzo is grateful to the judge for seeing through much of the noise and recognising who she is – a strong woman who exists to lift others up and spread positivity. We plan to appeal all elements that the judge chose to keep in the lawsuit and are confident we will prevail.”
This legal battle began last year when Lizzo attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, citing California’s anti-SLAPP statute, associated with lawsuits that threaten free speech. The judge’s recent ruling emphasises the importance of addressing allegations of discrimination and misconduct, even in speech-related environments.
The three plaintiffs, Davis, Williams, and Rodriguez, started working with Lizzo in 2021, with Rodriguez resigning in 2022. In August 2023, Lizzo took to social media to deny the allegations, describing them as “outrageous” and defending her character against what she called “sensationalised stories.”