Lizzo: New harassment claims from former wardrobe designer

Lizzo has been sued for the second time this year by a former employee over harassment claims.
Lizzo has been sued for the second time this year by a former employee over harassment claims. Copyright Amy Harris/Invision/AP
By David Mouriquand
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Lizzo has been sued for the second time this year by a former employee over harassment claims... on the day the singer received an award recognizing her work promoting inclusivity and social justice.

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Lizzo has been sued (again) for overseeing a hostile work environment, this time by a stylist who says she was subjected to a “culture of racism and bullying” while on tour with the singer.

The lawsuit accuses the Grammy Award winner and supervisors of Big Grrl Big Touring of sexual and racial harassment, disability discrimination, retaliation and assault.

The woman who designed outfits for Lizzo's dancers alleges that the singer's wardrobe manager referred to dancers as "fat," "useless" and “dumb."

“I felt like I was living in a madhouse,” fashion designer Asha Daniels, 35, told NBC News the day before she filed her lawsuit against Lizzo and other members of the singer’s team. “It was totally shocking.”

“I was listening to this Black woman on this huge stage have this message of self-love and caring for others and being empathetic and being strong and standing up for others,” she said. “And I was witnessing myself, the dancers and the background vocalists and my local team in every city be harassed and bullied regularly.”

The suit accused wardrobe manager Amanda Nomura of doing stereotypical impressions of Black women and forcing them to change in front of a mostly white, male stage crew who would “lewdly gawk” at them.

Lizzo and her management team were allegedly aware of the conduct.

The lawsuit also alleges that Daniels was forced to work 20-hour days, often seven days a week and was frequently denied breaks.

According to the complaint, Daniels was instructed by Nomura not to have direct contact with Lizzo because she would be jealous of her, and that if she did, she should "tone it down".

Nomura specifically told Daniels not to dress attractively in front of Lizzo, according to the lawsuit.

It builds upon allegations from a trio of former tour dancers suing Lizzo for claims of weight shaming, harassment, and pressuring them to engage in sexually explicit acts at sex shows.

Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP
Lizzo accepts the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the Black Music Action Coalition Gala, 21 Sept. 2023Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

The suit was filed, rather perfectly, the day (21 September) Lizzo was set to receive the prestigious Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award presented by the Black Music Action Coalition, an award recognizing her work promoting inclusivity and social justice.

Daniels' lawyer said the timing is cynical.

"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," said Ron Zambrano, a partner at West Coast Employment Lawyers.

"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."

Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson for Lizzo, said that the lawsuit was “a bogus, absurd publicity-stunt lawsuit.”

The rep added, “We will pay this as much attention as it deserves. None.”

Lizzo got emotional receiving a humanitarian award last Thursday, saying “I needed this right now.”

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“It's easy to do the right thing when everybody's watching you. And it's what you do in those moments where nobody's watching that defines who you are. And I'm going to continue to be who I am no matter who's watching. I'm going to continue to shine a light on the people who are helping people because they deserve it. I'm going to continue to amplify the voices of marginalized people because I have a microphone and I know how to use it,” she said. 

“And I'm going to continue to put on and represent and create safe spaces for Black fat women. Because that's what the fuck I do.”

Additional sources • NBC, AP

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