Hollywood stars and well-known pundits have taken sides in the lawsuit against singer Lizzo.
The Grammy award winner, whose given name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, and is known as a champion of the body positive movement, is facing legal action from three of her former dancers who accused her of sexually harassing them and creating a hostile work environment.
Los Angeles attorney Ron Zambrano, who is representing plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, said “behind closed doors, this is the way Lizzo is.”
He made the comments on Chris Cuomo‘s Newsnation show, Cuomo, and added one dancer, “was put it in the situation where she had to pee on herself, where her phone was taken, where she had to admit that she had to be, that she … had mental disability, eating disorder, she was called out for fat shaming.”
The star responded to the lawsuit by writing: “These last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized. Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.
“These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Celebrities weighed in on the legal action with a number throwing their support behind Lizzo.
Jersey Shore star JWoww (Jenni Farley) and actress Jennifer Garner liked Lizzo’s Instagram statement.
While Pushing Daisies actress Kristin Chenoweth wrote in the comments: “This will be a blip soon enough. Keep your head held high girl. You know who you are. Others like to take the opportunity to get what they can. Ignore. Delete. It will be over soon.”
And The Good Place star Jameela Jamil added a series of love heart emojis in support of the star.
Perhaps surprisingly, conservative commentator Candace Owens described the lawsuit as “frivolous.”
“I know everyone’s going to think that my take is that Lizzo is guilty as charged. Actually far be it. My take is I do not believe that Lizzo is guilty as charged,” she began on a recent episode of her podcast.
Owens read through the details of the lawsuit including accusations that some of the dancers were forced to eat a banana protruding from a sex worker’s vagina while visiting Amsterdam and that white management had reprimanded them for other behavior while on tour.
“I should make it clear … that they are claiming that white management demoralized them, because they had these white managers [and] they were racist toward them because they told them how they should behave on tour,” she said.
“It sounds like the women probably were just told that they couldn’t be ratchet and maybe the manager was white who said this to them but now they’re launching essentially a lawsuit saying that’s racist and sexual harassment.”
“Ratchet” is a derogatory term often used towards Black women who are deemed uncouth, according to Dictionary.com.
“Now here’s my take obviously according to me, this is a frivolous lawsuit,” Owens added and accused the dancers of being “grown adult women” who “knew exactly what it meant when Lizzo took them out on the town to the red light district in Amsterdam.”
But one of Lizzo’s biggest celebrities fans, Beyoncé, seemed to snub the singer at a recent concert following the news of the lawsuit.
Beyoncé is currently on the U.S. leg of her Renaissance world tour and seemed to skip Lizzo’s name during her performance of her “Break My Soul (Queens Remix),” where she name-checks a number of iconic performers in her track such as, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill.
Social media footage from her show in Foxborough, Massachusetts seemed to show Beyoncé seemingly not saying Lizzo’s name during the popular re-working of Madonna’s song “Vogue”.
In her public statement, Lizzo said she was very passionate about her work and took her role as an entertainer very seriously.
“With passion comes hard work and high standards. Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team,” she wrote.
“I am not here to be looked at as the victim,” she went on, “but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.
“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. I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this.”
Lizzo finished her statement by thanking “everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”
But the plaintiffs’ attorney, Zambrano, hit back at her statement and told Newsweek it showed “a lack of empathy.”
“Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans,” Zambrano said on Thursday. “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.”
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