The artist’s attorneys argued the case should be dismissed under anti-SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, grounds — a designation for meritless suits filed to stifle free speech. Anti-SLAPP motions are rare in sexual harassment suits and are usually reserved for defamation cases.
Judge Mark H. Epstein ruled the suit would proceed, citing in a 34-page decision that the popstar’s anti-SLAPP statute argument didn’t completely fit the lawsuit, Billboard reported.
However, Epstein did toss out some of the accusations against the singer, according to NBC News, including the allegation that Lizzo fat-shamed one of her dancers.
“This case presents a number of difficult issues and the courts are rightfully wary of injecting themselves into the creative process,” Epstein said. “Finding the right balance is often no easy task, and this case is a perfect example.”
The trio of dancers — Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez — filed the suit in August, claiming Lizzo created a “hostile, abusive work environment.” Lizzo claimed the group of dancers were just looking for a “quick payday.”
The lawsuit accuses the music star of pressuring some of the plaintiffs into participating in a “severely uncomfortable” nude photo shoot, forcing them into a “sexually charged and uncomfortable environment” with nude performers at an Amsterdam nightclub and requiring the trio to undergo a “brutal” and “excruciating” 12-hour audition to keep their jobs.
Attorneys for Lizzo said the dancers were justifiably fired over poor conduct.
Within 24 hours of the lawsuit news, the four-time Grammy Award winner lost over 150,000 Instagram followers and just one week later, the Philadelphia-set Made in America Festival — which the singer was meant to co-headline — was canceled, with organizers citing “severe circumstances.”
The singer has denied the accusations from the suit and defended herself against the claims.
Lizzo was hit with a second lawsuit over her work environment on tour, just a month after the first one. In the second lawsuit, the singer was accused of condoning an “unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture” while on tour.
Lizzo has also filed to have this lawsuit against her dismissed but has yet to receive a ruling.
The Hill and Nexstar contributed to this report.
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Author: Devan Markham