ENTERTAINMENT

NeNe Leakes sues saying racism accepted on ‘Real Housewives’

Apr 21, 2022, 9:24 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:35 pm
NeNe Leakes attends Jeezy's Inaugural SnoBall for his Non-Profit Street Dreamz Foundation at Waldor...
NeNe Leakes attends Jeezy's Inaugural SnoBall for his Non-Profit Street Dreamz Foundation at Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead on August 22, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Street Dreamz)
(Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Street Dreamz)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former star of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” NeNe Leakes sued the companies behind the show on Wednesday, alleging that they fostered and tolerated a hostile and racist work environment.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta says Leakes, who is Black, complained to executives about years of racist remarks from fellow housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who is white, but that only Leakes suffered consequences.

It names as defendants NBCUniversal, Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, executives from the companies and “Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen, but not 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 says.

Representatives for NBCUniversal declined comment. Emails sent to representatives for the other defendants and Zolciak-Biermann seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Leakes, 54, a TV personality and actor whose legal name is Linnethia Monique Leakes, spent seven seasons as one of the central stars of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” between 2008 and 2020.

It alleges that during the first season, which aired in 2008, the cast was planning to attend a barbecue, and housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann, responded to the idea with “words to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken.’” The suit says the statement “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”

The suit says in 2012 during the fifth season, Zolciak-Biermann made “racially offensive and stereotypical” comments about the new home of housewife Kandi Burruss, calling her neighborhood a “ghetto” and perpetuating a racial stereotype in an offensive comment about whether Burruss needed a swimming pool.

That same year, the suit says, Zolciak-Biermann used the N-word to refer to Leakes and other of the housewives after a dispute with them, the suit alleges. It also alleges Zolciak-Biermann falsely implied that Leakes used drugs and called her home a “roach nest.”

The suit says after Leakes complaints 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,” and if anything 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,” Leakes’ lawyer David deRubertis said in a statement.

Joe Habachy, another Leakes’ attorney, 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 lawsuit alleges that her complaints of racism led in part to Leakes being forced off the show in 2020 before its 13th season.

The suit says Leakes’ negotiations for the season came as the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining major momentum, with Leakes a vocal supporter.

Executives sought to sideline Leakes from talking about the cause, keeping her off early episodes in which the housewives would address BLM, the suit alleges.

“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 says. “Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”

The suit alleges that the defendants’ actions violate federal employment and anti-discrimination law, and it seeks monetary damages to be determined at trial.

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Entertainment

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West attend the WSJ. Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards sponsored by Harr...
ANDREW DALTON, AP Entertainment Writer

Kim Kardashian and Ye settle divorce, averting custody trial

Kim Kardashian and Ye have reached a settlement in their divorce, averting a trial that had been set for next month.
21 hours ago
Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died at the age of 66. (Arlene Richie/Shutterstock)...
Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Clarence Gilyard, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ star, dead at 66

Clarence Gilyard, the actor best known for playing computer hacker Theo in "Die Hard" and naval flight officer Marcus "Sundown" Williams in "Top Gun," has died at the age of 66.
21 hours ago
Massive blue ice sculptures with a starry sky....
Brooke Williams

Ice castles are constructed by hand one icicle at a time

Cold temperatures means construction on the Ice Castles at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center has officially begun, and it's coming together one icicle at a time.
3 days ago
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in ...
CNN

Ye announces 2024 presidential bid, after dinner with former President Donald Trump

Kanye West posted several videos on Twitter Thursday, claiming he met with former President Donald Trump asking him to be his running mate.
4 days ago
"White Christmas" is a movie that has a lot of behind-the-scenes lore. (Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstoc...
AJ Willingham, CNN

The secrets behind your favorite Christmas movie classics

Watching Christmas movies is a whole tradition unto itself. Get to know some of the fascinating stories behind the stories so you can watch your old favorites with fresh eyes.
5 days ago
Kanye West attends the Balenciaga Spring 2023 Fashion Show at the New York Stock Exchange on May 22...
Gayle Harrington and Robert North, CNN

Adidas plans to investigate allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ye

Adidas will begin an investigation into allegations of misconduct against Kanye West, with whom the company had a partnership that it ended in October.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
NeNe Leakes sues saying racism accepted on ‘Real Housewives’