Lizzo facing new lawsuit from former employee alleging harassment, discrimination

An further lawsuit against Lizzo has been filed by a former worker who claims the performer approved of a toxic work environment where employees were subjected to harassment, discrimination, and bullying. The latest case was submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday by Asha Daniels, a clothing designer who assisted with Lizzo’s tour earlier this year. Lizzo was given the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award by the Black Music Action Coalition on Thursday night, according to CBS News partner site ET.

Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, her production business Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), and her wardrobe and tour managers Amanda Nomura and Carlina Gugliotta are all named in the lawsuit. It follows a different complaint that three of Lizzo’s former dancers filed in August, in which they accused her of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment where they were subjected to taunting, racism, and weight-shaming.

Daniels, a named professional clothing designer in the court documents, claimed that Nomura called her in January 2023 and requested her to join Lizzo’s 2023 tour. According to the lawsuit, she was tasked with modifying and maintaining dancers’ attire that she had created in 2022.

What claims is Asha Daniels’ lawsuit based on?

According to the complaint, Daniels claims in the current lawsuit that she was subjected to assault, racial and sexual harassment, handicap discrimination, and illegal retaliatory termination throughout her work with Lizzo.

The lawsuit claims that Lizzo, Nomura, and other team members created a work environment for the dancers that was “set up to humiliate, degrade, alienate, and, in some cases, fire, the Black female performers.” Nomura served as Lizzo’s team leader and Daniels’ immediate supervisor. Daniels alleges that the dancers were required to change with “little to no privacy” and that Lizzo’s stage crew, which was primarily made up of White guys, “would lewdly gawk, sneer, and giggle while watching the dancers rush through their outfit changes.”

According to the lawsuit, Daniels was directed “not to dress attractively” in front of Lizzo and not to speak to either the performer or her partner.

In a group chat with more than 30 members of Lizzo’s tour team, Daniels claims a backstage manager provided a picture “graphically depicting male genitalia,” which other management staff “found… to be comical.”

Daniels alleges that throughout her time at work, she was frequently required to put in 20-hour days, was frequently given breaks, and, in one case, was refused medical attention despite experiencing an allergic reaction while on tour. She claims that Nomura used racist and fatphobic remarks, calling Black tour participants “dumb,” “useless,” and “fat,” and using threatening language when speaking with the staff members she oversaw.

When they were moving a garment rack together, according to Daniels, Nomura allegedly rolled it over her foot. After the incident, Daniels allegedly asked Nomura to “sit down, as her foot was in serious pain,” but she claims that Nomura ignored her request and instead “proceeded to shove the Plaintiff into the rack of clothing, while asserting Plaintiff should not make excuses about her foot and must help NOMURA transport the clothing.” The lawsuit claims that Daniels then lost her balance and rolled her ankle. Daniels eventually showed up at work wearing Crocs, “which lessened the pain,” but according to the lawsuit, Nomura allegedly pushed her to switch to tennis shoes “so that she could move more heavy cases while injured.”

Daniels finally lost her job, and afterward, the lawsuit claims, she developed anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches, ocular distortions, brain fog, and exhaustion.

In the case, Daniels claims that since she is a Black woman, Lizzo’s management “allowed for experiences of degradation, forced physical labor, denial of medical care, sexual harassment, and racial harassment to take place without consequence.”

How does Lizzo respond to the claims?
“As Lizzo receives a Humanitarian Award tonight from the Black Music Action Coalition for the incredible charitable work she has done to uplift all people, an ambulance-chasing lawyer tries to tarnish this honor by recruiting someone to file a bogus, ridiculous publicity-stunt lawsuit who, wait for it, never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo,” said Stefan Friedman, the spokesperson for Lizzo, to ET. We’ll give this the consideration it requires. None.”

When three former backup dancers first made their charges in August, Lizzo replied, calling the fallout “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing.”

When confronted with bogus accusations, she commented at the time, “Usually I choose not to respond, but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.”

“With Lizzo’s attack on the other plaintiffs, we’ve heard from more than two dozen former Lizzo employees sharing similar stories of abuse and harassment who could be potential new plaintiffs,” said Ron Zambrano, an attorney representing Daniels, in a statement to CBS News on Thursday. This issue won’t go away.

The buck stops with Lizzo because she is the boss, according to Zambrano. Her management staff perceives the sexualized and racially charged climate she has fostered on her tours as endorsing such behavior, thus it goes unchecked. Lizzo is aware of what is happening, but instead of stopping this repulsive and illegal behavior, she decides to take part herself.

Lizzo’s dinner and recognition
Lizzo attended the 2023 Black Music Action Coalition Gala on Thursday night and was said to be in excellent spirits, according to ET.

Lizzo grinned as she mingled with other celebrities and posed for pictures at the star-studded gala, which was held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The singer, who skipped the red carpet before the event, looked stunning in a sophisticated black gown.

Read the new lawsuit in full

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