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Lizzo faces new lawsuit from tour wardrobe designer claiming racial, sexual harassment

Ashra Daniels joins three former dancers in filing lawsuit over experience with rapper and her team

By Daniel Kreps

Lizzo press shot, 2022
Lizzo (Photo: Press)

Another former Lizzo employee has filed a lawsuit against the rapper, accusing her and her team of racial and sexual harassment, disability discrimination, illegal retaliatory termination, and assault.

Asra Daniels, who worked as a wardrobe designer on Lizzo’s 2023 tour and helped design outfits for the rapper’s “Big Grrrl” dancers, filed the lawsuit against Lizzo, her wardrobe manager Amanda Nomura, and her tour manager Carlina Gugliotta Thursday in a Los Angeles superior court.

The lawsuit follows one filed by three of Lizzo’s former dancers who made claims of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment against her. Another 14 dancers who worked with the singer received a separate settlement in connection to her 2022 documentary Love, Lizzo.

The majority of the allegations in Daniels’ lawsuit focus on the treatment she received from Nomura, including “racist and fatphobic comments” that the wardrobe manager allegedly said about the dancers; “Nomura would also refer to Black women on the tour as ‘dumb,’ ‘useless,’ and ‘fat,’” the lawsuit states.

“Nomura expressed that she would ‘kill a bitch if it came down to it’ if anyone threatened her job,” the lawsuit continued. “Lizzo’s management was well aware of this pattern of behavior. Carlina Gugliotta, Lizzo’s Tour Manager even requested Plaintiff to record Nomura without her knowledge, which Plaintiff did not do as it was both unethical and possibly unlawful.”

Daniels added that she was “forced to endure sexual harassment by Lizzo’s management” in the form of a 30-person group text that “included graphic and disturbing images of male genitalia.” As for the assault claim, Daniels cited an incident where Nomura allegedly “rolled a heavy clothing rack over Daniels’ foot, causing serious pain, but Nomura merely ignored it and pushed Daniels into the rack, causing a more severe injury.”

Daniels said that she was ultimately “abruptly fired” from the tour. “Due to the racist and sexualized work environment, and also the unreasonable physical requirements of the Plaintiff, she suffered constant anxiety and panic attacks,” the lawsuit said. “She continues to suffer ongoing anxiety and PTSD after the tour; she suffers from migraines and migraine-induced eye twitch and ocular distortions, brain fog, and fatigue.”

The Daniels lawsuit was filed on the same day that Lizzo is to receive the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award presented by the Black Music Action Coalition.

“The timing of this award’s announcement stinks of an architected PR stunt by Lizzo’s team aimed at trying to repair the damage done to her brand. It won’t work. 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,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Ron Zambrano — who also represents the three former Lizzo dancers — said in a statement. 

“Lizzo is the boss so the buck stops with her. 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 spokesman Stefan Friedman said in a statement to Rolling Stone, “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.”

The singer has previously denied all accusations, responding in part in a statement, “I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. 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.”