In yet another case, Grammy winner Lizzo is accused of being in charge of a “hostile, sexually and racially charged” workplace. Asha Daniels, a fashion designer who worked on Lizzo’s 2023 tour, brought the suit.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the same day that Lizzo is going to get the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award from the Black Music Action Coalition. It names Melissa Jefferson, who goes by the stage name Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), her fashion manager Amanda Nomura, and her tour manager Carlina Gugliotta.
Daniels says in the lawsuit (which you can read here), among other things, that she was harassed because of her race or sexuality, her disability, being fired as a form of retaliation, and being attacked.
In response to the new lawsuit, Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Lizzo, said the following to Deadline:
“Tonight, Lizzo is getting a Humanitarian Award from the Black Music Action Coalition for all the great work she has done to help people. However, an ambulance-chasing lawyer is trying to ruin this honor by getting someone to file a fake, ridiculous lawsuit for publicity who, wait for it, has never even met Lizzo or talked to her. Check Who Is Lizzo Dating In 2023.
We’ll pay as much attention to this as it needs. None.”
It comes after three of Lizzo’s former tour dancers filed a similar case in August.
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez say in that suit that they were made fun of for their bodies, put through what they call a “excruciating” audition for their own jobs after they were accused of drinking on the job, and forced to wear “soft hold” retainers that made it hard for them to work.
In the current case, the complaint says, “There was a group chat with more than 30 people from the BGBT team, including Lizzo’s tour management and Plaintiff.” “A backstage manager sent a photo of a man’s private parts in the group message,”
Daniels says that when Lizzo’s tour stopped in Amsterdam, Nomura and other supervisors were “talking about hiring sex workers for lewd acts, going to sex shows, and buying hard drugs.” She says that she was forced to join and that Lizzo and her management team knew about it.
The lawsuit also says, “On multiple occasions, NOMURA said or did things to threaten the plaintiff and the whole crew. For example, she told the plaintiff and others that she would “kill a bitch” and “stab a bitch” if she couldn’t find her medicine. (2) She pushed a team member because they found out she was planning to leave. (3) NOMURA took food out of the hand of a neighborhood worker who was just trying to take a break. (4) She said that if anyone threatened her job, she would “kill a bitch if it came down to it.”
Daniels also says that Nomura didn’t give her breaks and forced her to work on her days off.
In the lawsuit, Daniels says that Nomura rolled a heavy rack of clothes over her foot at least once. When she told Nomura she was in a lot of pain and needed to sit down, she says Nomura pushed her “into the rack of clothes” and said she shouldn’t complain about her foot and should help Nomura move the clothes.
Daniels says that when she got hurt and had to wear orthopedic shoes, Nomura made her move back to tennis shoes.
The complaint says, “Not only was Plaintiff denied medical treatment (on this occasion and other occasions), but she was also forced to be on her feet most of the day and was not allowed to rest, even after rolling her ankle.”
Daniels told tour manager Gugliotta in February that there was “widespread racial and sexual harassment” where “Black dancers were made fun of, used as objects, and not given accommodations.” “The toxic work environment did not change,” the complaint says, and Daniels was fired in the end.
Daniels says in the lawsuit that she “suffered from constant anxiety and panic attacks during the tour because of the racist and sexualized environments. She still suffers from ongoing anxiety and PTSD after the tour, and she has migraines that cause her eyes to twitch and distort, as well as brain fog and tiredness.”
The lawsuit asks for damages that aren’t clear.