Ex-‘Real Housewives’ Star Accuses Bravo Producers of ‘Psychological Warfare’ in Discrimination Lawsuit

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
February 29, 2024Entertainment
Ex-‘Real Housewives’ Star Accuses Bravo Producers of ‘Psychological Warfare’ in Discrimination Lawsuit
Leah McSweeney attends the Big Feelings Brand Launch Party in New York on Nov. 2, 2023. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Big Feelings)

A former star of the reality TV series “The Real Housewives of New York City” has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the show’s producers and network Bravo Media, accusing them of using “psychological warfare” to pressure her to relapse into alcoholism.

Leah McSweeney, who starred in the show from 2020 to 2021, filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on Feb. 26.

It lists the show’s host and executive producer Andy Cohen, Bravo Media, NBCUniversal Media, Warner Bros. Discovery, production company Shed Media US, and producers John Paparazzo, Lisa Shannon, and Darren Ward as defendants.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire,” the lawsuit begins. “Defendants discriminated against, tormented, demoralized, demeaned, harassed and retaliated against Ms. McSweeney because she is a woman with disabilities, such as alcohol use disorder and various mental health disorders, all in the name of selling drama.”

Lawyers for Ms. McSweeney, 41, go on to accuse the defendants of creating a “hostile” work environment and “rotted workplace culture” that “uniquely depended on pressuring its employees to consume alcohol.”

Bravo producers failed to maintain a safe working environment or “accommodate Ms. McSweeney’s disabilities including alcohol use disorder and mental health disorders,” the lawsuit states.

Instead, the defendants—knowing Ms. McSweeney struggled with alcohol use disorder—”colluded with her colleagues to pressure Ms. McSweeney to drink, retaliated against her when she wanted to stay sober, and intentionally failed to provide reasonable accommodations that would aid her efforts to stay sober and able to perform,” according to the lawsuit.

Producers ‘Employed Psychological Warfare’

Additionally, show producers “employed psychological warfare intentionally weaponized to break Ms. McSweeney’s psyche,” according to the lawsuit, including allegedly preventing her from visiting her dying grandmother by “implicitly threatening to terminate her employment and cut her pay if she left the filming location.”

“Defendants also knew of Ms. McSweeney’s bipolar, depression, and anxiety disorders. Yet, rather than engaging in the interactive process to provide Ms. McSweeney with reasonable accommodations, Defendants trapped her—alone—in a foreign country and manipulated her castmates into traumatizing Ms. McSweeney,” the lawsuit states.

Elsewhere, the lawsuit accuses producers of giving Ms. McSweeney negative performance reviews and stating that her scenes on the show were “boring” because she did not relapse into alcoholism.

The lawsuit adds that Ms. McSweeney was sober for approximately nine years before joining the “Real Housewives.”

She relapsed five months prior to joining the show and disclosed during her audition tape that this was the case, her lawyers add.

Despite the initial relapse, Ms. McSweeney regained her sobriety by the time she began filming for the show’s 12th season, and expressed her desire to remain sober to producers and other cast members, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. McSweeney’s lawyers say their client suffered loss of income, severe emotional distress, mental anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of reputation, and humiliation as a result of the defendants’ “unlawful and discriminatory employment policies and practices.”

The former reality TV star is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, a representative for Mr. Cohen said, “The claims against Andy are completely false.”

The Epoch Times has contacted a spokesperson for NBCUniversal Media Group, which owns Bravo, for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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