As reported by Page Six, NeNe sued NBCUniversal, Bravo, True Entertainment, Truly Original, and executives including Andy on Wednesday. The suit alleges that a racist work environment was not only tolerated on the show but also fostered.
According to the suit, which was filed in Atlanta in federal court, NeNe complained to executives about years of racist statements from her white co-star, Kim Zolciak-Biermann. NeNe allegedly received negative consequences because she complained.
Kim, however, is not specifically listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. “NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture,” the lawsuit states, “in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged.”
The suit claims Kim once stated something “to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken’” after the idea of a barbecue was suggested to the cast. According to the lawsuit, her statement “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”
Her lawsuit also claims that Kim made “racially offensive and stereotypical” statements about costar Kandi Burruss’ house, calling the neighborhood “ghetto” and engaging in a racial stereotype regarding whether Kandi needed a pool.
The suit alleges that Kim said the N-word as she referred to NeNe and other costars after a dispute. She also allegedly insinuated that NeNe took drugs and labeled her house a “roach nest.”
After the complaints, the executives allegedly “did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior.” According to the suit, Kim was possibly rewarded for the behavior with 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,” said NeNe’s attorney, David deRubertis.
Another lawyer, Joe Habachy, stated in an 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 NeNe’s complaints were a reason she was pushed off the franchise. Executives allegedly kept NeNe out of early episodes on season 13 in order to prevent her from talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, of which she was a strong supporter.
“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,” said the lawsuit. “Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”
The defendants, according to the lawsuit, violated anti-discrimination and federal employment laws. NeNe’s attorneys are seeking monetary damages, which may be determined during trial.
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