Advertisement

Andy Cohen’s Lawyer Doubles Down Rebutting Leah McSweeney’s Cocaine- And Booze-Drenched Lawsuit – Update

UPDATED: A letter sent by Andy Cohen’s lawyer to the legal team of Real Housewives of New York alum Leah McSweeney reiterates that claims of workplace discrimination and retaliation made in her lawsuit against the franchise’s boss are false, and calls on McSweeney to retract her accusations.

The letter, delivered Wednesday from Cohen’s powerhouse lawyer Orin Synder, got right to the point of McSweeney’s allegations – especially those involving claims of Cohen using cocaine with his employees as part of a “rotted workplace culture.”

More from Deadline

“While virtually every statement about Mr. Cohen contained in the complaint is false and will be proven so if this baseless lawsuit proceeds, we demand that you immediately retract and withdraw all allegations relating to Mr. Cohen’s purported ‘cocaine use,’ including but not limited to the allegation that Mr. Cohen ‘engages in cocaine use with Housewives and other ‘Bravolebrities’ that he employs,’ the Gibson Dunn attorney wrote. “If you refuse to do so, Mr. Cohen reserves the right to hold you and your client accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Read the full letter here.

The latest salvo comes after Cohen’s PR rep responded immediately to the suit filed late last month in U.S. District Court in New York, calling the claims “completely false.” Warner Bros Discovery, NBCUniversal, Bravo Media and show producer Shed Media were also named in the lawsuit.

McSweeney’s filing said she was bringing “this action to hold Defendants’ accountable for their unlawful employment acts of disability discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, sex and gender discrimination.

Read more about the details of the case below.

PREVIOUSLY, February 27: Real Housewives kingpin Andy Cohen has faced a number of accusations and unsavory allegations of late, but a cocaine-fueled favoritism and booze-bullying lawsuit today from Leah McSweeney has truly raised his ire.

“Defendant Cohen’s proclivity for cocaine usage with his employees is well-known throughout the Real Housewives franchise,” McSweeney’s complaint alleges against the producer and host she calls the “Real Housewives omnificent ringleader” in the filing. “Defendant Cohen intentionally uses cocaine with his employees to further promote a workplace culture that thrives off drug and alcohol abuse, which leads to a failure to accommodate employees who are disabled and attempting to remain substance free,” it adds.

Late tonight after word of the New York-filed action seeped out, a representative for Cohen told Deadline “the claims against Andy are completely false!”

For her part, McSweeney’s filing declared she was bringing “this action to hold Defendants’ accountable for their unlawful employment acts of disability discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, sex and gender discrimination. Reality always reveals itself: these unconscionable practices will no longer be tolerated; the pattern of discrimination and retaliation must stop—it is time that Defendants answer.”

Never one to claim he is or ever was a saint, the often TMI Cohen also wasn’t particularly surprised by Tuesday’s filing by RH and Ultimate Girls Trip vet McSweeney against him, Bravo, NBCUniversal, production company Shed Media and various producers, I hear. After all, McSweeney had openly threatened last year to take the gang to court when she had her own employment discrimination action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tossed out.

READ LEAH MCSWEENEY’S LAWSUIT AGAINST ANDY COHEN, NBCU, BRAVO & MORE HERE

With that proviso and with the Bravoverse under such scrutiny right now from a range of lawsuits and lawyers, the defendants probably hoped McSweeney wouldn’t go all scorched Earth on them like she did.

The former Real Housewives of New York City star really did shoot off a flamethrower in what she says was a distinct effort to stop her from exercising her right to remain sober.

Decrying a “rotted workplace culture that uniquely depended on pressuring its employees to consume alcohol,” the suit goes on to claim that RH franchise EP Cohen “engages in cocaine use with Housewives and other Bravolebrities that he employs.” The filing also alleges that Cohen flatters the “Housewives with whom he uses cocaine with more favorable treatment and edits.”

Making it very personal for McSweeney herself, the suit states “defendants with the knowledge that 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.”

The NY courts weren’t the only arena that McSweeney choose to plant her flag on Tuesday.

“Your favorite Bravo shows are run by people who create a dangerous work environment, encourage substance abuse to artificially create drama and cynically prey on the vulnerabilities of their employees,” McSeeeney wrote on her Instagram page a few hours after the lawsuit was filed. “I may be a pariah to them after this, but I do hope my lawsuit helps reality TV to align with its true purpose: to authentically depict the complexities of life while offering genuine support to those who share their stories,” she adds – as you can see below

While unscripted shows have always attracted lawsuits like they attract narcissists, Bethenny Frankel’s self-described “reality reckoning” war last year against the “sordid and dark underbelly of NBC’s widely consumed reality TV universe” really lit the cannons to fire at will. Taking aim at the restrictive NDAs and manipulation and mind games allegedly taking place on unscripted shows, Frankel’s main lawyer Bryan Freedman has put Bravo and NBCU on legal notice.

Even with NBCU promising stricter workplace conduct guidelines for its reality TV offerings, a slew of sexual assault and sexual harassment suits have followed in recent months. While NBCU isn’t the only media giant with such problems (just say the words Netflix and Love Is Blind around a courthouse or two, to see what I mean), they are often in the seedy spotlight.

In the past three months alone, the legal action has gotten more down and dirty than ever. Last October, Marco Vega, the butler on the second season of Peacock‘s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually assaulted by cast members Brandi Glanville and Phaedra Parks. In December, RH alum Caroline Manzo claimed fellow Real Housewives star Glanville sexually assaulted her during the Morocco filming of Peacock‘s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. Both Vega and Manzo’s suits had Bravo, Forest Productions, Warner Bros., NBCU, Shed Media and Peacock as defendants.

Last week, Glanville’s lawyer Freedman and Mark Geragos put NBCU, WBD and Shed Media on the scolding seat with a letter alleging Andy Cohen sexually harassed their client.

Citing the “abusive practices of the reality TV industry,” the lawyers said in a letter to the C-suites that an apparently drunken Cohen sent Glanville a video in 2022 where he told her that he, an openly gay man, wanted her to watch him have sex with “another Bravo star that night,” aka Kate Chastain. Termed as an “extraordinary abuse of power” by Glanville, the allegations soon saw Cohen taking to social media to say it was all a joke that Glanville was in on. On Twitter/X, Cohen acknowledged “it was totally inappropriate and I apologize.”

That wasn’t enough for Glanville and her lawyers, who soon afterwards on February 23 asked Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to “do the right thing” and fire Cohen. Glanville herself says she still hasn’t received a personal sorry from Cohen.

Time is ticking.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.