There are only a few singers large enough to pull off one name, and on Thursday, one of the largest, Cher, was hit with a lawsuit from three former backup dancers, alleging racism, ageism and retaliation.
According to the Associated Press, choreographer Kevin Wilson, who is black and was a dancer on the singer's current Dressed to Kill tour, claims that he was told by the 68-year-old singer "not to hire any more dark-skinned dancers" and that there was "too much color" on the stage.
The lawsuit also alleges that they were fired for reporting an alleged assault after a June show in Louisville, Ky. According to TMZ, a male dancer was accused of being "sexually aggressive" with a woman he reportedly invited back to his hotel room. Wilson; dancer Suzanne Easter, who is also African American; and colleague Jacquelyn Dowsett Ballinger brought the matter to the attention of the tour manager. All three dancers were let go in July.
Wilson and Easter believe that race and retaliation played a role in their firing. Ballinger believes that her age, 42, and whistle-blowing are what got her removed from the tour.
"The accusations are ridiculous," Cher's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, told AP. "They couldn't be further from the truth."
According to AP, "the dancers were told they were being fired to save costs on the tour," but according to TMZ, the tour has netted some $54.9 million.
"The allegations are made by long-term employees who have been on tour with Cher for over a decade," the dancers' attorney, Perry C. Wander, told AP. The dancers are seeking more than $10 million in damages.