‘Dark Secrets,’ ‘Psychological Warfare,’ and Cocaine

“I thought it was going to be fun,” Leah McSweeney, a former star of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” said about joining the show’s cast in 2019.

She was speaking on a video call on Wednesday, for which her lawyer and her publicist were present. The day before, Ms. McSweeney had filed a lawsuit against parties including the Bravo cable channel; its parent company, NBCUniversal; and Andy Cohen, the executive producer of the “Real Housewives” franchise, alleging the creation of a “rotted workplace culture” that “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.”

According to the complaint, which was reviewed by The New York Times, Ms. McSweeney, 41, joined the “Housewives of New York City” cast around the time she had relapsed after nine years of sobriety.

She became sober just before she started filming the show and has alleged that producers developed “artificially close relationships” with her through which they “cultivated a treasure trove of Ms. McSweeney’s dark secrets with intent to place her in situations known to exacerbate her alcohol use disorder and mental health disabilities because they thought that intentionally making these conditions worse would create good television.”

The complaint goes on to allege that producers frequently undermined Ms. McSweeney’s sobriety not only by encouraging her outright to drink but by “engaging in guerrilla-type psychological warfare intended to pressurize Ms. McSweeney into a psychological break and cause Ms. McSweeney to relapse.”

It also claims that Mr. Cohen frequently uses cocaine with other “Housewives” stars and that he rewards those cast members with “favorable treatment.”

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