Three of the Grammy winner's former background dancers have accused the singer of misconduct
Lizzo’s attempt to have a sexual harassment lawsuit against her dismissed has been denied.
On Friday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the case filed by several of the Grammy winner's former background dancers alleging sexual harassment in the workplace will go forward, PEOPLE can confirm.
The ruling was in response to an Aug. 1, 2023 lawsuit in which Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez alleged they were abused, harassed, discriminated against and faced numerous workplace violations while working for the musician, 35, (real name Melissa Jefferson) and her Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc.
Los Angeles attorney Ron Zambrano is representing the three women.
“We’re very pleased with the judge’s ruling, and we absolutely consider it a victory on balance,” Zambrano said in a statement to PEOPLE.
He added that judge Mark H. Epstein “did dismiss a few allegations," including allegations of Davis being fat-shamed, a nude photo shoot, and dancers being forced to be on "hold" while not on tour.
“However, all the other claims remain, including sexual, religious and racial discrimination, sexual harassment, the demeaning visits to the Bananenbar in Amsterdam and Crazy Horse in Paris, false imprisonment, and assault. The ruling also rightfully signals that Lizzo — or any celebrity — is not insulated from this sort of reprehensible conduct merely because she is famous. We now look forward to conducting discovery and preparing the case for trial.”
Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Lizzo, told Entertainment Tonight, "We are pleased that Judge Epstein wisely threw out all or part of four of the plaintiffs’ causes of action. Lizzo is grateful to the judge for seeing through much of the noise and recognizing who she is — a strong woman who exists to lift others up and spread positivity. We plan to appeal all elements that the judge chose to keep in the lawsuit and are confident we will prevail."
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PEOPLE reached out to Lizzo’s attorney for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In the 34-page court document, Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District called Bananenbar was mentioned.
The plaintiffs had previously spoken out about an incident last year where Lizzo allegedly insisted upon members of her touring team join her at the venue that showcased nude dancers.
Last year, the singer attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, citing California’s anti-SLAPP statute (known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation”), which is associated with lawsuits that threaten free speech.
“It is dangerous for the court to weigh in, ham-fisted, into constitutionally protected activity,” Judge Epstein said. “But it is equally dangerous to turn a blind eye to allegations of discrimination or other forms of misconduct merely because they take place in a speech-related environment.”
The singer and her dance captain Shirlene Quigley will still have to face other allegations of sexual harassment, as well as accusations of racial and religious discrimination — the plaintiffs had also alleged they were forced to participate in prayer circles.
Davis and Williams began working with Lizzo in 2021 for the Amazon reality show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. Rodriguez was also hired in 2021 after performing in the video for the singer’s hit “Rumors,” but resigned in 2022.
In August 2023, Lizzo shared a lengthy statement on social media denying the “outrageous” accusations.
“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 not to be addressed,” she said, in part.
Calling out the “sensationalized stories,” Lizzo said the plaintiffs had previously been “told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
“I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be,” she added.
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