Former The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member NeNe Leakes is suing Bravo and NBCUniversal for ignoring alleged racism which she alleges created a hostile and racist work environment.
“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, per WGNTV.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta that says Leakes, who is Black, complained to executives about years of racist comments from fellow housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who is white, but that only Leakes suffered consequences.
In the suit, it states that Zolciak-Biermann made several racially insensitive comments towards Leakes, who was on The Real Housewives of Atlanta from 2008 to 2020. Zolciak-Biermann was also an original cast member; she started in 2008 then she left the show in 2012 during the fifth season and later returned as “a friend of the show” for its tenth season in 2017-18.
In the first season, which aired in 2008, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly said to have remarked “words to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken’” while the cast was planning to attend a barbecue. The suit says the statement “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans,” per the outlet.
During the fifth season that aired in 2012, the suit says, Zolciak-Biermann used the N-word to refer to Leakes and other housewives after a dispute with them, the suit alleges. It also mentioned that Zolciak-Biermann allegedly implied that Leakes used drugs and called her home a “roach nest.”
After the alleged comments, the suit says that Leakes complained to executives about Zolciak-Biermann’s behavior and they “did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior.”
“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, per the outlet.
The lawsuit alleges that her complaints of racism led in part to Leakes being forced off the show in 2020 before its 13th season.
Bravo and NBCUniversal have not made a public statement pertaining to the lawsuit at this time.