Television

Bravo, Andy Cohen Face New Lawsuit Filed by Housewife Leah McSweeney


Leah McSweeney has accused Bravo, Real Housewives producers, and Andy Cohen of exacerbating and failing to accommodate her struggles with drinking and mental health disorders during her time as a “Housewife.”

Between 2019 and 2023, McSweeney appeared on Seasons 12 and 13 of The Real Housewives of New York City and Season Three of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. During this run, McSweeney claims in the lawsuit, she worked hard to maintain her sobriety while grappling with depression and bipolar disorder. But producers allegedly tried to undercut her efforts through a pattern of manipulation. 

The suit claims the various defendants “established a rotted workplace culture that uniquely depended on getting its employees to consume alcohol.” They allegedly “colluded with her colleagues to pressure 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.” 

Additionally, the lawsuit accuses the defendants of using “psychological warfare intentionally weaponized to break Ms. McSweeney’s psyche.” Allegedly, they “intimated and prevented from visiting her dying grandmother” during the filming of Season 13 by “implicitly threatening to terminate her employment and cut off her pay.” 

According to the lawsuit, McSweeney started drinking again after nine years sober, several months before filming her first season of RHONY. She was able to regain her sobriety right before the cameras started rolling and allegedly told the show’s producers and several of her castmates that she wanted to remain sober while filming.

In response, she accuses the producers of “nefariously” trying to “extract personal, confidential information about her disabilities that they could later use against her.” She also alleges the producers “pressured” her to drink and “directed and/or encouraged other RHONY cast members to do the same.” 

McSweeney eventually relapsed while filming a Season 12 episode titled “Hurricane Leah.” The lawsuit claims some of McSweeney’s castmates expressed concerns about her drinking and behavior during the shoot, and in response, one of the producers, Lisa Shannon, allegedly told McSweeney she “should continue to consume alcohol so long as she ‘remain[ed] lucid’ while filming.” 

“Hurricane Leah” was the highest-rated episode of RHONY Season 12, the suit says, and McSweeney suggests its success loomed over the way producers treated her going forward. McSweeney stopped drinking again before Season 13 and was determined to remain sober while filming. Rather than help her, she claims, the producers repeatedly encouraged her to drink. 

Producers allegedly told McSweeney to “lighten up,” “have more fun,” and that her “personality is a lot different when [she was] drinking.” Shannon also allegedly “tried to bait” McSweeney into relapsing by telling her that “the audience would not like her because she was not drinking.”  

McSweeney alleges similar instances while filming her season of Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. She claims her requests to attend AA meetings while filming in Thailand were not accommodated; that producers told a guest “fortune teller” to bring up her “mental health diagnoses and addiction during filming,” and that Shannon allegedly said she was “not the Leah we know and love” because she’d decided to film the season sober. 

Cohen is also accused of “publicly mocking McSweeney’s sobriety,” which the lawsuit characterizes as a form of retaliation. McSweeney also says she “begged” Cohen not to mention her grandmother’s death during Season 13, and in response, Cohen “chose to dedicate a section of” Watch What Happens Live toward “lambasting Ms. McSweeney’s ‘decision’ not to visit her dying grandmother” while filming.

Cohen is further referenced in the lawsuit’s claims of gender and sexual discrimination, accused of trying “to create a narrative that the Housewives are promiscuous sexual objects.” The suit claims that Cohen frequently makes sexually charged comments about female Housewives, ones he does not make about male cast members. In McSweeney’s case, she cites one instance where Cohen allegedly said her “recent breast augmentation made her a real ‘Housewife.’”

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A rep for Bravo did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. A rep for Cohen told Deadline, “The claims against Andy are completely false!”

McSweeney’s lawsuit is the latest in a growing wave of litigation tackling allegedly toxic, exploitative, and discriminatory working conditions on reality programs. Caroline Manzo, of Real Housewives of New Jersey, filed a civil suit of her own recently, while last year Bethenny Frankel headlined a letter that accused NBCUniversal of “a pattern and practice of grotesque and depraved mistreatment.”



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