NeNe Leakes, a former star of The Real Housewives of Atlanta reality show, has filed a lawsuit claiming its production companies fostered a hostile and racist work environment.
Leakes’ lawsuit was filed Wednesday in an Atlanta federal court and reported by the Associated Press. The complaint alleges Leakes complained for years about racist remarks from fellow “Housewife” Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who is white. However, the suit contends, Leakes was the only one to suffer consequences.
Defendnts in the lawsuit include NBCUniversal, Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, executives from those companies, and “Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen. Conspicuously absent is Zolciak-Biermann.
“NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged,” the suit claims.
Leakes, real name Linnethia Monique Leakes, spent seven seasons on the show between 2008 and 2020.
Among the suit’s allegations:
*** During the first season in 2008, Zolciak-Biermann said that she didn’t want to attend a group barbecue, alleging words were said to the effect of, “I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken.’”
*** In 2012, the fifth season, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly made “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments about the new home of housewife Kandi Burruss She allegedly characterized the neighborhood as a “ghetto.”
*** Also in 2012, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly used the N-word to refer to Leakes and other housewives after a dispute. She also allegedly implied that Leakes used drugs and called her home a “roach nest.”
“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.
The lawsuit alleges that Leakes’ complaints of racism led in part to her being forced off the show in 2020 before its 13th season.