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Former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes is suing the companies who own the show. The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in an Atlanta federal court, stated that Leakes was subject to racist behavior and a hostile work environment during filming.
Defendants in the case include NBCUniversal, Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, executives from the companies, and “RHOA” executive producer Andy Cohen, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Leakes’ coworker and fellow reality star Kim Zolciak-Biermann is named as a main source of the alleged remarks but is not named in the suit. The star, whose real name is Linnethia Monique Leakes, claims she broached the topic of racist remark multiple times with “RHOA” executives but was ignored.
“NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated – if not, encouraged,” the suit says.
Specific incidents are also mentioned. For example, Zolciak-Biermann stands accused of saying “words to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken’” during a discussion about attending a barbecue. The suit says the statement “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”
The suit also says what while filming the fifth season in 2012, Zolciak-Biermann made “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments about housewife Kandi Burruss’ new house, saying the neighborhood was “ghetto.” She also accuses Zolciak-Biermann of using the N-word and calling Leakes’ house a “roach nest.”
The “Real Housewives” alum puts a lot of the blame on the show’s executive team, who she says, “did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior.”
“NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated – if not, encouraged,” the suit stipulates.
“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.
Another attorney on Leakes’ team, Joe Habachy, said 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.”
The suit also claims that Leakes’ involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement led to her being written off the show.
“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 reads. “Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”
According to the suit, Leakes is seeking monetary compensation for a violation of federal employment and anti-discrimination laws.