Former dancers have initiated legal action against Lizzo, reminding us arts workers deserve the same workplace protections as any other industry

Posted: 7th August 2023

Source: The Conversation

Last month, multi-Grammy winner Lizzo graced stadiums across Australia with her electrifying performances. Glowing five-star reviews celebrated Lizzo, the stage name of Melissa Viviane Jefferson, for attracting audiences of that are inclusive and celebrate love. Over the past three years, Lizzo has shifted from cult performer to a global icon with her fourth album and international tour.

Lizzo is known for her unique blend of self-acceptance and body positivity. Her personal brand radiates “unbridled joy and unapologetic self-confidence.” As a vocal supporter of fat positive language, Lizzo has faced significant criticism and hostility online.

However, a recent revelation has sent shock waves through fans and media circles, demonstrating a potential disconnect between her public persona and the behind-the-scenes music industry culture.

Three former dancers have taken legal action against Lizzo, her dance captain, and her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, levelling allegations of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The legal documents, filed in Los Angeles, outline nine charges against Lizzo and her team, many of which fall under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The charges allege Lizzo and her management pressured dancers into unwanted sexual situations, weight-shamed employees and failed to prevent religious and sexual harassment in the workplace. The dancers also claim that, as their employment was precarious, they felt they had to comply with requests that made them uncomfortable or risk losing their jobs.

Media and fan commentary has underscored the apparent disconnect between the messages of love and self-acceptance promoted by “brand Lizzo” and the reported experiences of the plaintiffs.

While Lizzo disputes their accounts, the issue will now play out in both the courts and social media. In the middle of this, the dancers’ claims resonate with the experiences of many musicians and arts professionals in Australia.

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Categories: News