Leah McSweeney Sues Andy Cohen, Bravo for Allegedly Exploiting Her Alcohol Problem While Filming ‘RHONY’ and ‘RHUGT’

Bravo and Andy Cohen are facing another lawsuit from a disgruntled ‘Housewife.’ Leah McSweeney is suing both aforementioned… The post Leah McSweeney Sues Andy Cohen, Bravo for Allegedly Exploiting Her Alcohol Problem While Filming ‘RHONY’ and ‘RHUGT’ appeared first on LOVEBSCOTT.

Leah McSweeney Sues Andy Cohen, Bravo for Allegedly Exploiting Her Alcohol Problem While Filming ‘RHONY’ and ‘RHUGT’

Bravo and Andy Cohen are facing another lawsuit from a disgruntled ‘Housewife.’

Leah McSweeney is suing both aforementioned parties claiming that they intentionally preyed on her alcohol problem to make good television.

via Page Six:

The former “Real Housewives of New York City” star claims in a hard-hitting lawsuit filed on Tuesday that the show won its best audience figures ever with an infamous episode known as “Scary Island,” in which one of its stars appeared to be confused, irrational and losing touch with reality.

McSweeney’s lawyers claim in the court papers that — knowing she was battling alcohol addiction when she joined the show and had a history of serious mental health problems — they saw her vulnerable condition as an opportunity to hit the ratings jackpot again by messing with her head until she went off the rails in a similar way.

In fact, the papers paint a picture of producers all-but-desperate to cause her to relapse in alcohol abuse, trying over and over again to drive her to drink with a variety of methods — from coaxing to coercion to refusing her time in her schedule to go to AA to retaliating against her for refusing to drink.

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And then, the papers claim, when she “refused” to drink, they simply tried other ways to mentally destabilize her in hopes of getting the on-camera meltdown they so badly wanted.

McSweeny — who has been open about her mental health issues and even hosts a podcast in which she interviews top medical experts about addiction and other matters — claims in the court papers that their alleged exploitation landed her in a psychiatric hospital.

The news comes amid a flurry of legal activity concerning Bravo, drugs, alcohol, and sexual harassment.

Just days ago, fellow “Real Housewives” star Brandi Glanville claimed in a legal letter that an “obviously inebriated” Cohen sexually harassed her by telling her that he wanted to “sleep with another Bravo star” while “thinking” of Glanville, and invited her to watch the act over FaceTime. (Cohen has claimed that the remark was meant “in jest” but conceded that it was “inappropriate.”)

And a few weeks earlier, Caroline Manzo, another “Real Housewives” star, also sued Bravo claiming that the network and its producers “regularly ply the ‘Real Housewives’ cast with alcohol, cause them to become severely intoxicated, and then direct, encourage and/or allow them to sexually harass other cast members because that is good for ratings.”

McSweeney — who is being represented by Adelman Matz, the law firm that won a $4 million defamation case for Cardi B last year against YouTuber Latasha Kebe — claims that the network breached her rights by failing to allow her to seek proper care for her alcohol addiction, even though executives were aware of the problem. She’s seeking unspecified damages.

The Married To The Mob designer, 41, starred in two seasons of the flagship Bravo show “The Real Housewives of New York City” from 2020 until 2021 and one season of spinoff “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip” in 2023. The suit claims that producers pressured her to drink in all three.

McSweeney claims in the papers, filed in the Southern District of New York, that even before she started shooting her first season with the Bravo show — Season 12, which also starred Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer, among others — she told the producers that she’d been sober for 30 days and that she was working to maintain her sobriety.

But instead of helping her stay on the wagon — or providing “reasonable accommodation” for her addiction disability, as the law says — she claims, producers “not only supplied Ms. McSweeney with unlimited, free-of charge alcoholic beverages throughout Ms. McSweeney’s employment as a cast member on ‘RHONY’ Season 12, but also encouraged her to consume those alcoholic beverages.” The suit adds, “This environment caused Ms. McSweeney to relapse into alcohol addiction shortly after joining RHONY season 12.”

The docs say that, indeed, McSweeney “grew mentally and physically ill, which manifested into extreme depressive symptoms” while filming a cast trip — much like the “Scary Island” cast trip, in which former star Kelly Bensimon appeared to become mentally unsettled.

Her attorneys claim that an episode from that trip, which Bravo named “Hurricane Leah,” became the highest-rated episode of the season “all due to [the defendants’] exacerbation of Ms. McSweeney’s clear disabilities.”

McSweeney’s lawyers claim that some of her fellow cast members even “expressed concerns regarding Ms. McSweeney’s erratic behavior.” But that one of the producers “called Ms. McSweeney and told her that, despite relapsing into alcohol use disorder, Ms. McSweeney should continue to consume alcohol so long as she ‘remain[ed] lucid’ while filming.’”

The mom-of-one says that after Season 12 she regained her sobriety and signed up for another season “because she felt she could make her experience better.”

But when she met the producers at a restaurant to discuss Season 13, they noticed she wasn’t drinking at lunch and — despite having watched her unravel on Season 12 and openly discuss her alcohol issues — tried to brush off her obvious dependency issues saying: “Well you don’t have a problem… do you?”

And she says that once filming began, Cohen and the producers “put Ms. McSweeney in situations where she felt pressured to relapse into alcohol use disorder.”

The papers also say that she felt the producers were giving her frequent hints — including praising the performance cast members who drank and “glorifying their alcohol use” — that it made better TV when she was drinking and made her worry she’d lose her job because of her abstinence.

The suit says she “feared that her sobriety would cause a trickledown effect, where if she continued not to drink… Cohen, [the producers] and the audience would think she was boring [and] Cohen would no longer want her on the show.”

And McSweeney claims in the paper that when she “refused to relapse into addiction,” the producers “attempted to exacerbate Ms. McSweeney’s mental health disabilities in hopes that Ms. McSweeney’s worsened mental health would cause her to display the erratic behavior they wanted.”

For example, says the suit, “during a cast trip to the Hamptons, Ms. McSweeney experienced a significant decline in mental health due to the impending death of her grandmother. Specifically, Ms. McSweeney’s disability manifested itself in the form of repeated panic attacks that [the producers] witnessed.”

According to the suit, McSweeney asked the producers to “reasonably accommodate her disability by allowing her to leave the [Hampton’s] and temporarily cease filming ‘RHONY.’ Ms. McSweeney asked for this accommodation to visit her dying grandmother and because Ms. McSweeney’s panic attacks interfered with her ability to work. ”

But it claims that “instead, [the producers] told Ms. McSweeney to ‘lighten up’ and ‘have more fun’ and that her ‘personality is a lot different when [she was] drinking.’”

The suit says the producers “filmed Ms. McSweeney as they told her that she could “leave if she wanted.” But it adds, “however, after working for [the producers] for more than two years, Ms. McSweeney understood this to mean that if she left she would have to suffer severe consequences.”

On another occasion, the suit claims that McSweeney got “fan messages telling her that her daughter should commit suicide,” and that McSweeney told a producer that the messages had made McSweeney herself feel suicidal.

“Rather than engaging in an interactive process with Ms. McSweeney to accommodate her disabilities and worsening mental health conditions,” the suit says a producer “exploited Ms. McSweeney’s disabilities in attempt to manipulate Ms. McSweeney to relapse into alcohol use disorder.”

It adds that the producer “in diametric opposition to [their] obligations as an employer” in fact “encouraged Ms. McSweeney to relapse and told her that the ‘RHONY’ season 13 fans would like her more during the season if Ms. McSweeney still consumed alcohol.”

The suit claims a producer told her, regarding threats against her daughter, that “fans would like her more during the season if Ms. McSweeney still consumed alcohol.”

She later signed up for the spin-off show “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip,” and, according to the papers, received similar treatment while shooting in Thailand.

The papers also claim that McSweeney told producers of that show — who work for the same production company as “RHONY” — that she needed to go to AA meetings while filming “RHUGT” and that the producers told her it would “not be a problem.”

But when she got to the Asian country, a producer told McSweeney that the production company “refused to provide transportation to get to the AA meetings in Thailand and that there would not be time for her to attend AA meetings given the filming schedule.”

McSweeney is suing Cohen, Bravo, Shed Media — a production company that makes both shows — and Warner Media, which owns Shed. (Manzo is also suing Shed and Warner Media, and Glanville addressed her legal letter to all four entities).

Bravo and the producers “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,” the suit claims, adding “But being in the business of reality television does not relieve [them] of their obligation to follow employment laws that prohibit the exact type of discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation that Defendants subjected Ms. McSweeney to. Now, Ms. McSweeney seeks justice.”

It’s unusual for details of disputes between Bravo and its stars to come to light. Typically, contracts stipulate that such matters are resolved privately in “arbitration.” But if an employee sues for discrimination on the basis of sex, an exception allows cases to be heard in court (and, therefore, for court papers to be filed publicly). McSweeney is also suing for sexual discrimination, claiming among other things that Cohen has peppered her with questions on air about her body and her sex life while, the documents claim, he didn’t ask male stars about their bodies and sex lives under similar circumstances.

As well as Manzo and Glanville’s recent lawsuits, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone have both published stories in recent months raising concerns about the agency and alcohol use of the shows’ stars.

Bravo and sister streamer Peacock have aired 11 “Real Housewives” series, beginning with the “Real Housewives of Orange County” in 2006, and four seasons of “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip.”

There’s a lot going on over in the Bravo legal department. Whew!

The post Leah McSweeney Sues Andy Cohen, Bravo for Allegedly Exploiting Her Alcohol Problem While Filming ‘RHONY’ and ‘RHUGT’ appeared first on LOVEBSCOTT.