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Lizzo facing new lawsuit from former employee alleging harassment, discrimination

Lizzo is facing another lawsuit from a former employee who alleges that the entertainer condoned a hostile work environment in which staff were subjected to harassment, discrimination and bullying. Asha Daniels, a wardrobe designer who worked on Lizzo’s tour earlier this year, filed the new complaint Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. On Thursday evening, Lizzo received the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award from the Black Music Action Coalition, CBS News partner site ET reports.

The suit names multiple people involved with the most recent tour, including Lizzo, whose given name is Melissa Jefferson, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT), and her wardrobe and tour managers, Amanda Nomura and Carlina Gugliotta. It comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed in August by three of Lizzo’s former dancerswho accused her of sexual harassment and fostering toxic working conditions in which they were subjected to taunts, racism and weight-shaming.

Identified in the court filing as a professional clothing designer, Daniels said she was contacted in January 2023 by Nomura, who asked her to join Lizzo’s 2023 tour. She was tasked with altering and repairing clothing for the tour’s dancers, which she had designed in 2022, according to the lawsuit.

What are the allegations in Asha Daniels’ lawsuit?

Daniels alleges in the new suit that she endured racial and sexual harassment during her term of employment with Lizzo, as well as disability discrimination, assault and illegal retaliatory termination, according to the complaint.

The suit alleges Nomura, who was Daniels’ direct supervisor, and other members of Lizzo’s team established a working environment for the dancers that was “set up to humiliate, degrade, alienate, and, in some cases, fire, the Black female performers.” Daniels claims the dancers were forced to change with “little to no privacy” and that members of Lizzo’s stage crew, who were mainly White men, “would lewdly gawk, sneer, and giggle while watching the dancers rush through their outfit changes.”

The lawsuit claims Daniels was instructed “not to dress attractively” in front of Lizzo and told she shouldn’t interact with the entertainer or her boyfriend.

Daniels alleges that in a group chat with more than 30 members of Lizzo’s tour team, a backstage manager sent a photo “graphically depicting male genitalia,” which other management personnel “found … to be comical.”

Daniels claims that throughout her employment she was routinely forced to work 20-hour days, frequently denied breaks and, in one instance, denied medical care while suffering an allergic reaction during the tour. She allegedly heard racist and fatphobic comments from Nomura, who allegedly called Black women involved with the tour “dumb,” “useless,” and “fat,” and used threatening language in interactions with the employees whom she supervised.

In one alleged incident, Daniels says Nomura rolled a clothing rack over her foot while they were moving it together. Nomura allegedly dismissed Daniels’ request “to sit down, as her foot was in serious pain” after the incident, and instead “proceeded to shove the Plaintiff into the rack of clothing, while asserting Plaintiff should not make excuses about her foot and must help NOMURA transport the clothing,” according to the complaint. Daniels then lost her balance and rolled her ankle, the lawsuit alleges. When Daniels later came to work wearing Crocs, “which minimized the pain,” Nomura allegedly forced her to change into tennis shoes, the lawsuit says, “so that she could move more heavy cases while injured.”

Daniels was eventually fired, and in the wake of her termination experienced anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines, ocular distortions, brain fog and fatigue, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Daniels believes the “experiences of degradation, forced physical labor, denial of medical care, sexual harassment, and racial harassment were allowed to take place by LIZZO’s management without consequence because she is a Black woman.”

What is Lizzo’s response to the allegations?

Lizzo’s spokesman, Stefan Friedman, told ET, “As Lizzo receives a Humanitarian Award tonight from the Black Music Action Coalition for the incredible charitable work she has done to lift up all people, an ambulance-chasing lawyer tries to sully this honor by recruiting someone to file a bogus, absurd publicity-stunt lawsuit who, wait for it, never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo. We will pay this as much attention as it deserves. None.”

Lizzoresponded to the allegations initially brought by three former backup dancers in August, saying the aftermath of the accusations had been “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing.”

“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” she said at the time.

Ron Zambrano, an attorney representing Daniels, told CBS News in a statement Thursday, “With Lizzo’s attack on the other plaintiffs, we’ve heard from more than two dozen former Lizzo employees sharing similar stories of abuse and harassment who could be potential new plaintiffs. This is not going away.”

“Lizzo is the boss so the buck stops with her,” Zambrano said. “She has created a sexualized and racially charged environment on her tours that her management staff sees as condoning such behavior, and so it continues unchecked. Lizzo certainly knows what’s going on but chooses not to put an end to this disgusting and illegal conduct and participates herself.”

Lizzo’s evening and award

Lizzowas one of the guests of honor at the2023 Black Music Action Coalition GalaThursday evening and appeared to be in good spirits, ET reported.

At the star-studded gala, held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Lizzo smiled as she chatted with other celebrities and posed for photos.

The singer, who didn’t walk the carpet ahead of the event, shined in an elegant black gown.

Read the new lawsuit in full

Brian Dakss contributed reporting

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