A sexual harassment lawsuit against the rapper Lizzo will move forward to trial, potentially casting a dark shadow over one of the liberal media’s favorite personalities.
The singer had her request to throw out the lawsuit rejected by a California judge, after her lawyers cited California’s anti-SLAPP statute, a special law that enables defendants to end meritless lawsuits that threaten the First Amendment.
In his decision, Judge Mark Epstein said he had “tried to thread the needle,” after agreeing to dismiss one charge of fat shaming on the grounds that it was constitutionally protected activity:
It is dangerous for the court to weigh in, ham-fisted, into constitutionally protected activity. 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.
The fact that the alleged incidents take place in the entertainment or speech world is no shield of invulnerability or license to ignore law enacted for the protection of California’s citizens.
Billboard’s article also reported on the finer details of the case:
The case against Lizzo, filed in August by dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, accuses the singer (real name Melissa Jefferson) and her Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc. of creating a hostile work environment through a wide range of legal wrongdoing, including not just sexual harassment but also religious and racial discrimination. The alleged weight-shaming, the lawsuit claims, amounted to a form of disability discrimination.
In one particularly vivid allegation, Lizzo’s accusers claimed she pushed them to attend a live sex show at a venue in Amsterdam’s famed Red Light District called Bananenbar, and then pressured them to engage with the performers, including “eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas.” After Lizzo herself allegedly led a chant “goading” Davis to touch one performer’s breasts, the lawsuit says, Davis eventually did so.
Lizzo’s defense attorney. Martin D. Singer has argued that the claimants have merely “an axe to grind” after being admonished for “a pattern of gross misconduct and failure to perform their job up to par”:
Plaintiffs embarked on a press tour, vilifying defendants and pushing their fabricated sob story in the courts and in the media. That ends today,. Instead of taking any accountability for their own actions, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against defendants out of spite and in pursuit of media attention, public sympathy and a quick payday with minimal effort.
Meanwhile, the dancers’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano, celebrated the decision:
We’re very pleased with the judge’s ruling, and we absolutely consider it a victory on balance. 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.
As previously outlined by RedState, the media has reported on the issue with in an “uncharacteristically well-behaved fashion.” Given that Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, ticks so many boxes such as being a morbidly obese black woman and an outspoken progressive activist, they are affording her the full presumption of innocence. Be grateful for small mercies!