Former Lizzo dancers who sued pop star reject claim they’re trying to silence her free speech

LOS ANGELES — Three former dancers who accused Lizzo of sexual harassment, weight shaming and other allegations rejected the singer’s legal argument that their lawsuit is aimed at suppressing her free speech, according to court documents filed Friday.

In a filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, lawyers for Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez wrote that Lizzo’s claim seeks to “forever” insulate celebrities from civil liability through a state statute designed to protect people from so-called “SLAPP” suits, or litigation that aims to chill speech.

“Defendant Lizzo asks this court to rule in exactly that fashion,” the filing says. “Fortunately for all victims of celebrity malfeasance, the law says otherwise.”

In an email Friday, a spokesman for Lizzo pointed to 18 members of the singer’s touring company who filed declarations with the court last month supporting the pop star and disputing the dancers’ lawsuit.

The spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said the group “stood by Lizzo’s worth ethic and character. It is clear that since then these plaintiff lawyers have come up with exactly zero to refute these facts.”

In a filing last month, Lizzo’s lawyers cited the SLAPP statute in a motion that asked the court to throw out many of the dancers’ claims, including allegations that Lizzo pressured Davis to touch a nude performer at an Amsterdam strip club.

In addition to the 18 declarations, Lizzo — whose real name is Melissa Jefferson — filed her own declaration and said she never forced Davis to interact with anyone against her will.

“The Bananenbar dancers also asked for consent from each guest before touching them or engaging with them further,” the declaration says. “I remember that people declined and the dancers just moved on to someone else.”

In the declaration, Lizzo described herself as a “tough boss” but said she had never fat-shamed, harassed or discriminated against her employees.

“That goes against everything I stand for, and I would never inflict on anyone else the kind of offensive and hurtful behavior that I had to endure,” she said.

The dancers reiterated the allegations made in their August lawsuit in declarations filed Friday. The matter will be heard in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Santa Monica on Nov. 22.

Diana Dasrath

Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

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