(Reuters) – Grammy-winning singer Lizzo on Thursday denied claims made in a lawsuit filed by three of her former dancers that she created a hostile work environment by engaging in denigrating behavior and body-shaming, calling the accusations “false” and “outrageous.”
Lizzo’s response on the social media platform X comes two days after the dancers filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It alleges harassment based on sex, religion, race and disability.
In addition to Lizzo, whose hit singles include “Juice” and “Truth Hurts,” the lawsuit names her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc and Shirlene Quigley, the captain of her dance team, as defendants.
The singer, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, said the allegations were made by three former employees who had been told their behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional before they left Lizzo’s employment.
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” she wrote, calling the last few days “gut-wrenchingly difficult.”
The plaintiffs – Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez – claimed they were coerced into touching nude performers at an Amsterdam strip club in late February.
The lawsuit also claims that Davis was pressured to participate in a nude photo shoot to stay in a dance competition despite her discomfort. She claimed she feared losing her job if she did not comply with Lizzo’s alleged requests.
“I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not,” Lizzo wrote.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Ron Zambrano, said in a statement that Lizzo had sought to shame her dancers over their weight and demean them in ways that are illegal and demoralizing. Lizzo responded by saying she knows what it is like to be body-shamed and would never terminate an employee because of their weight.
The lawsuit also alleges that Quigley harassed the dancers by subjecting them to her religious beliefs against their will.
The plaintiffs also claimed that Quigley forced the topic of Davis’ virginity into conversations and interviews. The suit claims that she publicly revealed personal details about Davis on social media without her consent.
Representatives for Quigley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Davis and Williams were eventually dismissed while Rodriguez resigned over the behavior, the lawsuit said.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)