NeNe Leakes filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on Wednesday, claiming the companies that produced The Real Housewives of Atlanta were overseeing a hostile and racist workplace.
Leakes, 54, named Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen, 53, Bravo, NBCUniversal, True Entertainment and Truly Original, as well as executives from the companies, in her costume, according to The Associated Press.
Leakes, who is black, said in court papers that she reported hearing racist remarks from white RHOA co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, 43, to corporate officials, and suffered professional repercussions accordingly.
The latest: NeNe Leakes, 54, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on Wednesday, claiming the companies that produced The Real Housewives of Atlanta oversaw a hostile and racist workplace. She was photographed in New York in 2019
“NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and work culture in which racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not encouraged,” Leakes’ legal team said in the lawsuit’s court documents.
The reality star, whose full name is Linnethia Monique Leakes, appeared on 214 total episodes of the Georgia-based reality series from 2008 to 2020, according to iMDb.
She was a series regular until the seventh season, was a part-time cast member in the series’ seventh season, and returned as a regular in seasons 10 through 12. She was also seen in the spin-off. off I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding in 2013, which documented her nuptials to late husband Gregg Leakes.
Leakes said Zolciak-Biermann – who was not named in the lawsuit – first made a racist remark during the show’s first season in 2008 when the cast was scheduled to attend a barbecue.
Leakes named Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen, 53, among the defendants in his lawsuit
Leakes said the companies she named in the lawsuit — including Bravo and NBCUniversal — violated federal employment and anti-discrimination laws, asking for damages to be determined at trial.
Leakes said in court papers that Zolciak-Biermann said “words to the effect of, ‘I don’t want to sit with NeNe and eat chicken,’ which “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans. Americans”.
Zolciak-Biermann made more ‘racially offensive and stereotypical’ remarks during the show’s fifth season in 2012, according to Leakes, who said Zolciak-Biermann used the N-word in reference to her and d other cast members in the middle of a fight.
In one instance, after actor Kandi Burruss, 45, bought a new house, Leakes told the court, Zolciak-Biermann dubbed the neighborhood Burruss lived in a ‘ghetto’ and wondered if she had need a swimming pool.
Leakes said in court papers that Zolciak-Biermann referred to his home as a “cockroach’s nest” and lied about implying that Leakes was a drug user.
Leakes said in her lawsuit that she reported the slew of racial slurs to the show’s executives, who “did not end their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann or take any other meaningful action to end her racist behavior”.
Leakes said she reported hearing racist remarks from RHOA co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, 43, (pictured) to senior corporate officials, and faced professional repercussions as a result
In one instance, after actor Kandi Burruss, 45 (pictured last month) bought a new house, Leakes told the court, Zolciak-Biermann dubbed the neighborhood Burruss lived in a ‘ghetto’ and s asked if she needed a pool.
Zolciak-Biermann received more lucrative opportunities from Bravo with the 2012 spin-off Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding, which was later shortened to Don’t Be Tardy. The show ran for eight seasons before ending in 2020.
Leakes’ attorney, David deRubertis, said in a statement that “since filming began on the show, NeNe has been the target of systemic racism from co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, which has been condoned by the producer. Bravo executive Andy Cohen and other executives.”
Another attorney for Leakes, Joe Habachy, told the AP in an email that “not a day goes by that NeNe does not wake up to a wave of overwhelming emotions as a direct result of these unfortunate and preventable events.” .
In the lawsuit, Leakes said speaking out about the racist behavior forced her to leave the show in 2020 ahead of season 13, at a time when the Black Lives Matter organization was making headlines amid social change. after the police killing of George Floyd. , and the ensuing protests against racism and police brutality.
Leakes, a staunch BLM supporter, said in the lawsuit that executives deliberately kept her out of filmed episodes when the topic was being discussed by the cast.
Leakes and Cohen were pictured in 2019 after an episode of Watch What Happens Live
Leakes was seen with Cohen and Zolciak-Biermann in a photo Cohen posted on social media in 2020
‘As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Ms Leakes – Bravo’s most successful black female talent – should have been adopted by NBC, Bravo and True,’ Leakes’ legal team said in the lawsuit . “Instead, NBC, Bravo and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”
Leakes said the companies she named in the lawsuit violated federal employment and anti-discrimination laws, asking for damages to be determined at trial.
A production source told People on Wednesday that Zolciak-Biermann “doesn’t know where this all came from” because she and Leakes “have been fine for a while now.”
Leakes is one of the most high profile personalities to emerge from the Real Housewives universe as she has been featured on other shows including Fashion Police, Dancing with the Stars and The Celebrity Apprentice. She has also been featured as an actress on shows such as Glee, The New Normal, and Dynasty.