According to The Hollywood Reporter, the reality star named Bravo, parent network NBCUniversal and RHOA executive producer Andy Cohen as defendants in court documents filed at an Atlanta federal court on Wednesday. She is also suing True Entertainment and Truly Original, as well as executives from the two production companies, alleging that they created a "corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged." She is suing for an undisclosed amount.
The lawsuit claims the RHOA team ignored Leakes — who is Black — for years whenever she brought up racist remarks allegedly made by her white co-star, Kim Zolciak-Biermann. Leakes also says that she was the only one punished for telling executives, while Zolciak-Biermann was given an eight-season spinoff show on Bravo called Don't Be Tardy. Notably though, Zolciak-Biermann is not named in the suit.
The lawsuit goes on to say that Zolciak-Biermann's racist comments supposedly began during show's debut season in 2008 with “words to the effect of ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken'" when the entire cast was going to attend a barbecue, thus perpetuating an "offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”
Other examples listed in the documents include Zolciak-Biermann allegedly making “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments while talking about a new home purchased by fellow RHOA star, Kandi Burruss, during the show's fifth season. Leakes says Zolciak-Biermann called the neighborhood "ghetto" and made another racist comment questioning Burruss' need for a swimming pool. The court documents also bring up Zolciak-Biermann reportly using the n-word in reference to the other housewives, including Leakes.
“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,” lawyer David deRubertis said in a statement on behalf of Leakes. Meanwhile, her other attorney, Joe Habachy, told THR via email 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.”
Additionally, Leakes goes on to accuse the RHOA team of preventing her from talking about the Black Lives Matter movement during season 12 and kept her off early episodes addressing the matter.
"As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Mrs. Leakes — Bravo's historically most successful Black female talent — should have been embraced by NBC, Bravo, and True," the suit says. "Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the 'house she built,' denying her a regular role."
Her last starring appearance was during the show's 12th season. Prior to that, Leakes alternated between being a full and part-time cast member and had her own Bravo spinoff in 2013 called I Dream of Nene: The Wedding.
Read THR's full report here.
Photo via Getty / Charles Sykes / Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank
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