Linnethia “NeNe” Leakes, who starred in “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” for seven seasons, has filed a lawsuit accusing Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal and sister network Bravo of tolerating a racially hostile work environment.
She claims she suffered racial abuse from white co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann for years and that NBC and Bravo retaliated for complaining.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Atlanta federal court also names “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen, other producers, and production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original as defendants.
NBC and Bravo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Cohen and Zolciak-Biermann, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, could not immediately be reached.
Leakes in the lawsuit said Zolciak-Biermann made a series of offensive and racially charged comments about Leakes’ time on the show, including referring to a black neighborhood as a “ghetto,” saying “Black people don’t swim,” and calling Leakes ‘ home a “nest of cockroaches”.
The lawsuit says NBC and Bravo reinforced the racist conduct by giving Zolciak-Biermann and other white stars preferential treatment, such as allowing them to choose the times they filmed and agreeing to their demands that their families accompany them on trips.
Leakes claims that in retaliation for speaking publicly and raising concerns with Cohen and other executives, she was sidelined by the companies, eventually kicking her off the show in 2020.
His firing came as the Black Lives Matter movement was sweeping the country, preventing him from participating in film about major racial issues, according to the lawsuit.
Leakes accused NBC and Bravo of violating a federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in the creation and performance of contracts and prohibits retaliation against people who complain of illegal conduct.
She is seeking damages for lost wages and other monetary damages.