NeNe Leakes is acting on past claims of racism she made against Bravo and Andy Cohen and filed a lawsuit against Cohen and other production companies responsible for the show. Leakes filed a lawsuit in an Atlanta federal court against Cohen, NBCUniversal, Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original and other executives and accused them of creating and maintaining “a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Leakes is accusing them of violating federal employment and anti-discrimination laws.
Even though former costar Kim Zolciak-Biermann wasn’t named in the lawsuit, Leakes made many claims of racism against her throughout the lawsuit and accused Cohen of staying silent about it.
“From the day the series began filming, NeNe was the target of systemic racism from co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, which was tolerated by Bravo executive producer Andy Cohen and other executives,” Leakes’ lawyer David deRubertis said in a statement to THR.
In the lawsuit, Leakes claimed that throughout their time of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, she made Bravo executives and employees aware of Zolciak-Biermann’s alleged racist comments, but she was never apprehended nor disciplined. Leakes claimed that during the first season, she told them that she said ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken,’ which “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.” She also said that in 2012, Zoliak-Biermann used the N-word to refer to her. Leakes added that during season five that same year, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly made “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments about costar Kandi Burruss’ new home, called her neighborhood “ghetto” and said a racist comment about whether Burruss needed a swimming pool. Leakes said to add insult to injury, Bravo gave Zolciak-Biermann a spinoff show instead of terminating their relationship with her and also didn’t “take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior.”
Leakes’ other lawyer Joe Habachy said that she is continuing to experience distress as a result of her time as a cast member. He claimed that “not a day goes by that NeNe doesn’t wake up with an onslaught of overwhelming emotions as a direct result of these unfortunate and avoidable occurrences.”
The lawsuit also alleges that “NBC, Bravo, and True forced [Leakes] out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”
Leakes is seeking monetary compensation and the amount will be determined at trial.