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Lizzo files motion to try to prevent harassment lawsuit against her

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: The Guardian
December 19, 2023 at 10:41
Lizzo performing at the BET awards in 2022. Photograph: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET
Lizzo performing at the BET awards in 2022. Photograph: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET

Singer’s legal battle with former employee Asha Daniels continues, with lawyers arguing lawsuit is meritless and improperly filed

Lawyers for pop singer Lizzo have filed a motion to try to prevent a harassment lawsuit against her coming to court.

In September, fashion designer Asha Daniels, who created stage outfits for the star and worked on tour with her, accused Lizzo and others of maintaining an “unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture”. She told NBC News: “I was witnessing myself, the dancers and the background vocalists and my local team in every city be harassed and bullied regularly.”

The most serious allegations were made against others, including a wardrobe manager who Daniels alleged made a “stereotypical sassy Black woman imitation” and used threatening and derogatory language. Another manager was accused of texting sexually explicit material to a group chat, and Daniels alleged members of the team openly discussed “hiring sex workers for lewd acts, attending sex shows and buying hard drugs”. Daniels’ lawyer argued Lizzo was implicated, saying: “Lizzo is the boss, so the buck stops with her.”

A spokesman for Lizzo called the lawsuit “a bogus, absurd publicity stunt” and alleged Daniels had “never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo”.

Lizzo’s lawyers are now trying to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that it cannot be filed in California as Daniels is a resident in New York who was hired by a Delaware-based company. They also argue again that the lawsuit is without merit, describing Daniels as a “disgruntled” ex-employee who “refused to comply with instructions … and, eventually, just played hooky and refused to show up for work”.

Daniels, Lizzo’s team claims, was “terminated after abandoning her post on the day of a concert”.

Daniels previously said she was dismissed the same day that she had taken a break from work due to an allergic reaction. She claimed to have been told she was dismissed because she had previously complained about the alleged harassment.

Regarding the new motion, a lawyer for Daniels said Lizzo’s team were trying “to shift blame to the victims … Lizzo and her lawyers can continue trying to rationalise her illegal and wretched conduct but we remain committed to seeking justice for our clients, and look forward to our day in court where Lizzo can explain her behaviour in a public forum.” No decision has yet been made about whether Daniels’ lawsuit can go ahead.

Lizzo still faces another earlier lawsuit from three backing dancers who made similar allegations, including that Lizzo pressured one to touch a nude performer at a nightclub and have others engage in a sexually explicit performance. There were also complaints of “excruciating” audition processes and comments about the dancers’ weight.

In October, lawyers for Lizzo filed a motion to have that lawsuit dismissed – a decision has not yet been made.

Lizzo said: “These sensationalised stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”

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