Lizzo Breaks Her Silence on 'Unbelievable' and 'Outrageous' Allegations in Lawsuit by Her Former Dancers

The singer has broken her silence about the lawsuit filed by three former dancers alleging sexual harassment and a toxic environment.

Lizzo has broken her silence regarding the lawsuit filed by three of her former dancers against her, her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), and Shirlene Quigley, the captain of her dance team.

On Thursday, the 35-year-old "Truth Hurts" singer, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, shared a statement on Instagram, responding to the allegations. 

"These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing," she wrote. "My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized."

Lizzo noted that she rarely responds to "false allegations" but claimed the reports are "unbelievable" and "too outrageous to not be addressed."

The GRAMMY winner called the stories "sensationalized" and said they came from "former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional."

She added, "It's never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren't valued as an important part of the team." 

Saying she didn't want to be viewed as a "victim," Lizzo added, "I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days." 

Despite embracing being "very open with my sexuality," Lizzo shared, "There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world."

"I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight," the singer, who is known for her messages of body positivity, said. 

Lizzo concluded the post by thanking those who have shown her support and vowing, "I will not let the good work I've done in the world be overshadowed by this." 

According to court docs filed on Tuesday and obtained by ET, three of Lizzo's former backup dancers -- Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez -- claim they faced sexual harassment, as well as religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment, among other allegations.

"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 women's attorney, Ron Zambrano, said in a press release.

Davis, Williams and Rodriguez are asking the courts for damages, including unpaid wages, loss of earnings, deferred compensation, employment benefit, emotional distress, medical expenses and attorneys' fees.

After Lizzo posted her message on Thursday, Zambrano responded with a statement on behalf of the dancers. 

"Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans. Her denial of this reprehensible behavior only adds to our clients’ emotional distress. The dismissive comments and utter lack of empathy are quite telling about her character and only serve to minimize the trauma she has caused the plaintiffs and other employees who have now come forward sharing their own negative experiences," he stated. "While Lizzo notes it was never her intention 'to make anyone feel uncomfortable,' that is exactly what she did to the point of demoralizing her dancers and flagrantly violating the law.” "

According to the court documents, Davis and Williams met the "Truth Hurts" singer while preparing to be contestants on her Emmy-winning reality TV show, Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, in March 2021. When filming began five months later, they met Quigley for the first time.

"Ms. Quigley was not only vocal about her religious belief but took every opportunity to proselytize to any and all in her presence regardless of protestations. Ms. Quigley discovered that Ms. Davis was a virgin and Ms. Davis' virginity became a topic of extreme importance to Ms. Quigley," the lawsuit claims, additionally alleging that Quigley mentioned Davis' virginity in conversations, in interviews and on social media.

When Davis and Williams were selected for the dance team, they began working closely with Quigley, who allegedly continued preaching Christianity and sexuality, while discussing her masturbatory habits and sex life with her husband, the suit alleges.

As for Rodriguez, she was hired in May 2021 for Lizzo's music video and remained on as part of the dance team. The lawsuit alleges that Quigley singled out Rodriguez as a "non-believer.''

When the U.S. tour wrapped in November 2022, the women claim they asked to be paid at 50 percent of their working rate until the European leg of the tour began three months later. The suit claims that the women were offered 25 percent by BGBT and Lizzo and told they participated in "unacceptable and disrespectful behavior while on tour," though specifics of such behavior were allegedly never explained.

After news of the lawsuit broke, more of Lizzo's former dancers spoke out on social media in support of Davis, Williams and Rodriguez.

On her Instagram Story, Courtney Hollinquest shared a screenshot of a news article about the lawsuit before addressing it directly on the next slide.

"I'm not a part of the lawsuit -- but this was very much my experience in my time there," she wrote. "Big shoutout to the dancers who had the courage to bring this to light."

Quinn Wilson shared Hollinquest's post on her own Story, writing, "I haven't been a part of that world for around three years, for a reason. I very much applaude [sic] the dancers' courage to bring this to light. And I grieve parts of my own experience. I'd appreciate space to understand my feelings."

Hollinquest reposted Wilson's message, calling her fellow dancer "my sister forever."

"Only a few know what we've been through... love u Quinn," she wrote.

Bethany Holloway, Hollinquest's mom, also addressed the situation on her Instagram Story, writing, "As her parents on the receiving end of the phone calls during all those years I can unequivocally confirm that the mental abuse our daughter was put through was and still is traumatic. We are proud of her for undergoing therapy to work through her past with this individual."

Filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison also took to social media on Tuesday to share her alleged experiences with Lizzo, which she claims took place while briefly working on her documentary.

Posting a photo of herself seemingly filming Lizzo on stage, Allison noted that she was sharing her experiences "because validating other Black women's experiences is deeply important to me." 

"In 2019, I traveled a bit with Lizzo to be the director of her documentary. I walked away after about two weeks," Allison claimed. "I was treated with such disrespect by her. I witnessed how arrogant, self-centered, and unkind she is."

Calling the situation "s***ty," Allison added, "My spirit said to run as fast as you f**king can and I'm so grateful I trusted my gut. I felt gas lit and was deeply hurt, but I've healed. Reading these reports made me realize how dangerous of a situation it was. This kind of abuse of power happens far too often. Much love and support to the dancers." 

Sophia Nahli Allison/Twitter

In 2022, the Love, Lizzo documentary, which was directed by Doug Pray, was released on HBO Max. It is unclear whether Allison was the original director of the project or whether she was filming a different doc.