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Nomura also appeared to threaten employees, according to the suit. On one occasion, she used a slur and said she would “kill” anyone who put her job in jeopardy, the suit said.
After Daniels complained to Gugliotta, Lizzo’s tour manager, she allegedly asked Daniels to surreptitiously record Nomura, according to the suit.
Daniels declined, believing it would be unethical and possibly illegal, and continued to work for Lizzo, according to the suit.
Sexually charged complaints
When they traveled to Amsterdam, she heard managers discussing hiring sex workers for lewd sex acts, attending sex shows and buying hard drugs, according to the suit.
Daniels said she did not attend the events. The lawsuit filed last month on behalf of three former dancers describes one of those dancers going to an Amsterdam strip club, Bananaenbar, and accuses Lizzo of encouraging cast members to engage with performers and pressuring the dancer to touch one of them.
The dancer repeatedly declined, according to the suit, but relented after Lizzo allegedly led a chant goading her to do so.
Daniels’ suit also alleged that a manager texted a sexually graphic image to more than two dozen people.
“No one from LIZZO’s management team addressed this graphic sexual imagery in the workplace appropriately,” the suit said.
In February, Daniels told the tour manager, Gugliotta, about what the suit called “widespread racial and sexual harassment” taking place on tour. She was fired weeks later, on March 6, the same day she said Nomura scolded her for taking a break after an allergic reaction, the suit said.
Daniels told NBC News she learned of her termination via a plane ticket in her email.
The tour manager later told Daniels that “everyone” was aware Nomura was “crazy” and apologized several times but said it would be too difficult to replace Nomura, the suit said. The manager told Daniels that Nomura wanted her “gone” for speaking up, according to the suit.
Although Daniels had come to view her working conditions as increasingly hopeless, she said, she was stunned about her removal. She had been committed to staying for her relationships with the dancers and others who she said weren’t getting the support they deserved.
The firing was especially stunning, Daniels added, because she said Gugliotta had nothing but praise for her designs.
Afterward, Daniels said, the manager asked if she would continue doing design work for the dancers — an offer Daniels said she accepted because of her relationships with the performers and because she didn’t want them wearing mass-produced leotards purchased online, a “highly disrespectful” option Daniels said they’d previously been given.
While working for Lizzo and in the months that followed, Daniels suffered lingering physical and psychological problems, including anxiety and impaired vision, according to the suit. She said she previously considered suing Lizzo over what she described as the most toxic work environment she’d ever experienced, but she came forward only after learning of last month’s lawsuit.
“Not only do they deserve for me to stand up for them, but I also deserve to stand up for myself,” she said. “Twenty-five-year-old Asha deserves someone to stand up for her.”
Daniels’ plea to Lizzo and her managers now, she said, is to take the performer’s values of love and support seriously.
“Black women deserve to work in spaces where we feel safe, where we aren’t being harassed, where we aren’t being sexualized,” she said. “We’re allowed to just be great and work hard, and be treated the way that everyone else is allowed to be treated.”