Lizzo Sued by Former Wardrobe Stylist Asha Daniels for Condoning Hostile Work Environment

This comes over a month after three dancers filed a lawsuit against Lizzo for alleged sexual, religious and racial harassment.

Lizzo is facing another lawsuit -- this time from her former wardrobe stylist, Asha Daniels. 

Daniels, a professional clothing designer, designed the wardrobe for the dancers who will be on Lizzo's 2023 tour. 

In court docs obtained by ET on Thursday, Daniels is alleging that the singer -- whose real name is Melissa Jefferson -- condones a sexualized, racially charged and illegal work environment. The suit alleges that Lizzo allowed her management team to express racist and fatphobic comments, mock Black women, deny workers medical care and forced Daniels to endure degrading sexual harassment.

In response to the lawsuit, Lizzo's spokesman, Stefan Friedman, told ET: "As Lizzo receives a Humanitarian Award tonight from the Black Music Action Coalition for the incredible charitable work she has done to lift up all people, an ambulance-chasing lawyer tries to sully this honor by recruiting someone to file a bogus, absurd publicity-stunt lawsuit who, wait for it, never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo. We will pay this as much attention as it deserves. None."

Lizzo is not the only one being sued. Her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), wardrobe manager Amanda Nomura, and tour manager Carlina Gugliotta, are also named defendants. 

According to the docs, Nomura allegedly reached out to Daniels in January 2023, asking her to join Lizzo's BGBT tour so she could be readily available to alter and repair clothing. She began work on the tour in mid-February 2023, when the "disappointing reality" sunk in as she was allegedly forced to work 20-hour days, often seven days a week, and frequently denied breaks, the lawsuit states.

Throughout her employment with Lizzo, the lawsuit alleges that Daniels was forced to hear "racist and fatphobic comments from Nomura," while witnessing her "mock both Lizzo and Lizzo's background dancers on multiple occasions. Nomura would allegedly imitate the dancers and Lizzo by doing an offensive stereotypical impression of a Black woman, and would also refer to Black women on the tour as 'dumb,' 'useless,' and 'fat.'"

Daniels claims she was so offended that she complained to Nomura on multiple occasions but was rebuffed.

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The lawsuit claims that Daniels and other crew members experienced angry threats of physical harm from Nomura, who would allegedly say that she would "kill a b**ch" and "stab a b**ch" when she couldn't find her medication, adding that Daniels allegedly witnessed Nomura shoving a crew member who had threatened to quit.

"Nomura expressed that she would 'kill a b**ch if it came down to it' if anyone threatened her job," the complaint claims. "Lizzo's management was well aware of this pattern of behavior. Carlina Gugliotta... even requested Plaintiff to record Nomura without her knowledge, which Plaintiff did not do as it was both unethical and possibly unlawful."

Daniels claims she was forced to endure sexual harassment by Lizzo's management, specifically recalling a group text with more than 30 members of the BGBT team that allegedly included "graphic" and "disturbing" images of male genitalia. The documents claim that Lizzo's management "found the image to be comical, further encouraging an unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture."

The suit also alleges that Daniels witnessed Nomura, the crew and Lizzo's management team openly discussing hiring sex workers for lewd acts while on tour in Amsterdam, attending sex shows and buying hard drugs.

The lawsuit also claims Daniels took her complaints to Gugliotta. "Plaintiff also told Gugliotta that she and her local teams were victims of Nomura's verbal and physical abuse, racist comments, bullying, and withholding of accommodations. Plaintiff explained she believes Nomura's behavior was racially motivated, and stated, 'It's not lost on me that I'm one of the only Black women working behind the scenes and I feel like [Nomura] is treating me like I'm a slave.'"

Daniels alleges that despite her belief that Gugliotta would take the matter to Lizzo, nothing was done, and the toxic work environment continued until Daniels was abruptly fired. The suit claims that Gugliotta apologized, allegedly telling Daniels that everyone knows Nomura is "crazy" but that Nomura would be too hard to replace and that she wanted Daniels fired for lodging her complaints.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It was filed over a month after three of Lizzo's former dancers -- Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez -- filed a lawsuit claiming they faced sexual harassment when they worked for Lizzo, as well as religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment, among other allegations.

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

In a statement posted to Instagram shortly after the lawsuit made headlines, Lizzo called the allegations "outrageous" and "sensationalized."

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

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." 

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Ron Zambrano, told ET that he believes Lizzo's statement is both a public admission that supports his clients' claims as well as a failed defense.

"Part of her statement [was] like, 'You know [I'm] very open about my sexuality,' which I thought that was an odd thing to say when you're talking about allegations [concerning] such blatant sexual conduct. So it's kind of she's [saying], 'Listen, I'm sexual and I told you about it, so you have to deal with it,' right? It's about her," he said. "And I also think it's a failure because she had the opportunity to be like, 'My brand is about inclusivity [and] empathy, and I empathize with these women's feelings even though I disagree with our versions of the same event.'"

For those who may be skeptical of their claims, Davis said she understands finding it all hard to believe, considering Lizzo's reputation for being a source of love and light in the face of negativity in the media.

"I know that it's outrageous to hear this, I know Lizzo said it herself; it's outrageous. It's so outrageous to not address," Davis noted, asking that critics take a moment to "put yourself in our shoes."

She added, "We have trained our entire lives to be a dancer, we train like athletes but we also have to have the creative freedom of an artist and then we are seen in this industry as people who don't even deserve to be paid for what they do. It's hard; we fight tooth and nail to get paid. It's a whole thing. So imagine that and then being put in this environment and your hero, or someone you looked up to, not being who they say they are but then continuing to be looked at as this amazing person and knowing that it's all performative."

Calling it the "most excruciating pain to be silenced," Davis -- who alleges that during an "excruciating" 12-hour rehearsal where dancers were made to re-audition for their spots, she was so fearful she'd lose her job if she went to the bathroom that she soiled her pants -- asked for the public to consider her position as "a grown woman that was pushed to the point of going to the bathroom [on] myself in the middle of a rehearsal."

"You have to think to yourself, how much abuse did it take to get there?," she mused. "So I mean, just take a moment and put yourselves in our shoes and please just have empathy."

Not long after the lawsuit was filed, Zambrano told ET that six additional individuals -- who Zambrano said toured with the singer and worked with her on her Amazon Studios reality show, Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls -- came forward with their own allegations.

Zambrano also told ET that he's since received at least six additional calls from former Lizzo employees with similar allegations. Zambrano is looking into those claims as well.

"We feel extremely confident in this case and expect to be filing additional lawsuits against Lizzo as more potential plaintiffs come forward sharing similar stories of harassment and abuse," Zambrano said. "We’ve heard from more than a dozen former employees and are currently reviewing their claims. Some of them will most certainly be actionable. Crystal, Noelle and Arianna stepped out of the shadows to share their stories and now others are feeling empowered to do the same."

As for Daniels' lawsuit, it was filed the same day Lizzo is set to receive the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award presented by the Black Music Action Coalition.

"The timing of this award's announcement stinks of an architected PR stunt by Lizzo's team aimed at trying to repair the damage done to her brand. It won't work. 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. This is not going away," Zambrano said in a statement.

"Lizzo is the boss so the buck stops with her," he added. "She has created a sexualized and racially charged environment on her tours that her management staff sees as condoning such behavior, and so it continues unchecked. Lizzo certainly knows what's going on but chooses not to put an end to this disgusting and illegal conduct and participates herself."