Andy Cohen Involved in Discrimination Lawsuit With Real Housewife

andy cohen nene leakes discrimination lawsuit

Getty Andy Cohen, Bravo and NBCUniversal are named in a discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court by NeNe Leakes.

Lawyers for Andy Cohen and Bravo parent company NBCUniversal and others sued by former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes are trying to have her federal lawsuit moved out of the public eye.

A June 24 court filing reveals attorneys for those being sued by Leakes say the contracts she signed to appear on the Bravo reality show subject her to arbitration in New York. The two sides are working to settle the dispute, the court filing obtained by Heavy reveals.

Leakes filed the lawsuit, which can be read here, in federal court in Atlanta in April 2022. Attorneys for Cohen and NBCU say the parties are working toward a settlement on issues including where the dispute will be heard. They have asked for an additional 45 days to continue those talks before they issue a formal response to Leakes’ accusations in the Northern District of Georgia. Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand granted the defendants’ motion on June 27, agreeing to allow the private discussions to continue until August 19.

Leakes, who left the “Real Housewives” franchise in 2021 after 12 seasons, also named producer Steven Weinstock, Truly Original executive vice president of programming Lauren Eskelin and Bravo executive vice president Shari Levine in the civil rights lawsuit. She accuses NBC and Bravo of having an “historical culture of discrimination” and says they “maintain a corporate culture that is insensitive to Black talent and fosters racially offensive behavior that goes unpunished.”

Leakes’ attorneys also cite a lack of diversity in senior corporate leadership. They said Bravo, “televises racially segregated workplaces in which racially insensitive and inappropriate conduct is condoned and allowed to fester often creating discriminatory and hostile work environments for diverse talent who are working in their workplaces.” Leakes claims in the lawsuit she has been subjected to racist remarks from former “RHOA” co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who has called the accusations “ridiculous.”

Lawyers for Cohen & NBC Say Leakes’ Contract Requires All Legal Disputes to Be Handled Through Arbitration

nene leakes andy cohen lawsuit

Northern District of GeorgiaAndy Cohen and NBCUniversal responded to NeNe Leakes’ lawsuit in a recent court filing.

In their June 24 court filing, which can be read here, the defendants’ attorneys wrote, “The NBCU Defendants, Leakes and other named defendants are in discussions concerning the parties’ respective positions regarding the venue and forum in which to litigate this dispute in the most efficient manner. These discussions are ongoing.”

They added, “The parties are jointly requesting this extension to complete these discussions so that the parties can determine whether they can enter into any stipulations that would obviate, or reduce, motion practice on these issues or, otherwise, provide the necessary time for NBCU to respond to the Complaint if the parties are not able to agree.”

Attorneys for the defendants had until July 5 to respond to the lawsuit, according to the rules of civil procedure in federal court, if they had not asked for and been granted an extension. In the extension motion, the lawyers wrote that they are seeking to have the dispute handled through arbitration, which would be private, instead of in open court. Leakes’ attorneys do not think the case has to be handled through arbitration.

“Through counsel, Leakes and the NBCU Defendants have engaged in substantive dialogue about the disputes relating to forum and/or venue. The NBCU Defendants contend that this dispute is already subject to arbitration in New York pursuant to existing contractual agreements among the parties in this action. Plaintiff disagrees,” the court filing says. “But, the parties are in the process of negotiating this issue in an attempt to avoid the time and expense of a motion to compel arbitration. The parties have agreed that a 45-day extension of time is appropriate to complete these discussions or, if an agreement cannot be reached, otherwise allow the NBCU Defendants the time necessary to prepare their response to the Complaint. This length of extension will also hopefully ensure that all Defendants are parties to the ultimate agreement, if any, that is able to be reached.”

Leakes’ Attorneys Say Bravo ‘Racially Segregated’ the ‘Real Housewives’ Franchises

NeNe Leakes

GettyNeNe Leakes.

In the 74-page lawsuit filed by Leakes’ lawyers, they wrote, “NBC, Bravo, and True have racially segregated the Real Housewives franchise for years. … For years, NBC and Bravo have run The Real Housewives as a segregated franchise where certain shows are treated as white shows and others as Black, with little if any overlap or mixing between the two. The segregated nature of the franchise is reminiscent of the early days of ‘separate but equal’ – that is, the shows are racially separated, purported to be equal, but in fact they are not.”

About her “RHOA” co-star, Leakes’ attorneys wrote, “Housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann – the sole white housewife on RHOA – repeatedly engages in raciallyoffensive behavior. Rather than subjecting her to appropriate remedial action, NBC, Bravo, and/or True reward Zolciak-Biermann with special perks and privileges denied to the Black housewives. Mrs. Leakes and the other Black housewives speak up, but nothing is done to stop Zolciak-Biermann’s racially-offensive behavior.”

Leakes’ attorneys also said their client was blacklisted from NBCUniversal and Bravo for speaking out by calling out Cohen, who the lawyers call “Bravo’s Mascot-in-Chief” in the lawsuit:

Eventually, Mrs. Leakes spoke up again calling out the race-based mistreatment. Among other things, she publicly called out Andy Cohen for his racebased mistreatment of her and she called on a boycott of Bravo recounting some of the years of race-based mistreatment she was subjected to. In response, NBC, Bravo, and True doubled-down on their retaliation: now, they reneged on their offer of the development deal show. The offer that was previously on the table was explicitly now revoked after she leveled race-based mistreatment allegations at Cohen. They also then cut-off future negotiations for continued employment on RHOA or otherwise.

The lawsuit also talks about a conversation between Eskelin and Leakes in which she says the executive told her, “NeNe, I thought we could work this out but you called Andy a racist.” Leakes’ lawyers wrote, “With this, the truth came out. NBC, Bravo, and True have an unwritten rule: do not accuse us of race-based misconduct. And, certainly, do not accuse Cohen of it – even if he participated in, fostered, and turned a blind eye for years to it. Once Mrs. Leakes did that, her fate was sealed and her career with NBC, Bravo, and True was over. It was just a matter of time.”

Leakes’ lawyers added, “To try to shield itself from public scrutiny of its unlawful employment related practices like those detailed herein, NBC, Bravo, and/or True have also required as a condition of employment Mrs. Leakes, and others, to submit to boilerplate, non-negotiable, ‘take-it-or-leave it’ ‘Standard Terms and Conditions and Arbitration Provision’ in order to be allowed to work on the Real Housewives show.”

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2 months ago

This is ridiculous and needs to be dropped. Period

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