Sexual harassment suit against Lizzo moves forward after judge rejects dismissal

Lizzo’s team argued that the case should be dismissed, citing a free speech statute, but a trial seems likely

Published February 2, 2024 9:11PM (EST)

Lizzo attends Femme It Forward Give Her FlowHERS Gala 2023 at The Beverly Hilton on November 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Robin L Marshall/WireImage)

Last year, allegations of sexual harassment were made against Lizzo by a trio of her former dancers, who state in a suit that she created a hostile work environment where they were often put in unwanted sexual situations and berated for certain aspects of their personal lives, including their weight — a shocking contrast to the inclusive and fat-positive message that the artist has made a name for herself promoting.

Responding to this suit, Lizzo and her legal team filed for its dismissal, citing California’s anti-SLAPP statute — a special law that makes it easier to quickly end meritless lawsuits that threaten free speech, according to Billboard, but this was officially denied by a Los Angeles judge on Friday, paving the way for an upcoming trial.

“It is dangerous for the court to weigh in, ham-fisted, into constitutionally protected activity,” the judge wrote. “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.” 

Although the suit is moving forward, the judge did toss out certain claims made by the dancers as being including in the looming trial, namely the fat-shaming.

“We’re very pleased with the judge’s ruling, and we absolutely consider it a victory on balance,” said the dancers’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano, in a statement. “He did dismiss a few allegations, including the meeting where Arianna was fat shamed, the 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.” 

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