As Lizzo prepares to accept the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award for her advocacy in social justice tonight (Sept. 21), a fresh lawsuit was filed today. Fashion designer and former employee Asha Daniels, 35, accused the singer and her team of fostering a hostile work environment that included racial discrimination and harassment.
“I felt like I was living in a madhouse,” Daniels told NBC News. “It was totally shocking.”
She described the alleged sharp contrast between Lizzo’s public persona and the private backstage reality. “I was listening to this Black woman on this huge stage have this message of self-love, and caring for others, and being empathetic, and being strong and standing up for others,” Daniels said. “And I was witnessing myself, the dancers and the background vocalists, and my local team in every city be harassed and bullied regularly.”
Daniels’ lawsuit zeroed in on Amanda Nomura, the tour’s wardrobe manager. According to the suit, the latter routinely subjected Daniels and her colleagues to racial insults and inappropriate behavior. Nomura was accused of “doing stereotypical impressions of Black women,” and labeling performers as “fat,” “useless,” and “dumb.”
After the designer complained, she was allegedly fired. “Lizzo is the boss, so the buck stops with her,” said Daniels’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano. The attorney also represents three other former employees suing the artist for a hostile work environment. “Lizzo has created a sexualized and racially charged environment on her tours,” he added.
At the time of reporting, the “Special” hitmaker has not commented on the latest allegations. However, as for the previous lawsuits, she referred to the claims as “sensationalized stories” that were “outrageous.”
In a statement posted to Instagram on Aug. 3, the musician wrote, “These last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. 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 to not be addressed.”
Elsewhere, she added, “There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight.”