Former Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes is suing the companies behind the Bravo show, as she claims they fostered and tolerated a hostile and racist work environment, according to her lawsuit, which was obtained by HollywoodLife.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta says NeNe complained to executives about years of racist remarks from her co-star, Kim Zolciak–Biermann, but only NeNe suffered consequences. While NBCUniversal, Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, executives from the companies and Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen are named as defendants, Kim Zolciak-Biermann is not.
“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.
HollywoodLife reached out to reps of the defendants and Kim Zolciak-Biermann, but we have not yet received any responses.
NeNe, 54, whose legal name is Linnethia Monique Leakes, spent ten seasons as one of the main stars on RHOA between 2008 and 2020. In her suit, NeNe says the cast was planning to attend a barbecue during the first season, and Kim responded to the event with “words to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken.’” The suit goes on to say the statement “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”
The suit also states that in 2012 — during the fifth season of the show — Kim made “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments about Kandi Burruss‘ house. The suit claims Kim called Kandi’s neighborhood the “ghetto” before making an offensive comment about whether Kandi needed a swimming pool, further perpetuating a racial stereotype.
The suit claims Kim also used the N-word to refer to NeNe and her co-stars after an argument with them. It also alleges Kim falsely implied that NeNe used drugs and lived in a “roach nest”.
In her suit, NeNe claims that after complaining to the executives overseeing the show, they “did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior”. Instead, she claims they rewarded her by giving her her own spinoff show. “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,” NeNe’s lawyer David deRubertis said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that NeNe’s complaints of racism led in part to her being forced off the show in 2020 before its 13th season. NeNe “seeks monetary damages to be determined at trial.”