Andy Cohen filed to dismiss Leah McSweeney’s discrimination and substance abuse lawsuit, but her lawyer says not so fast

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The 2016 amfAR New York Gala
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Andy Cohen has filed to dismiss Leah McSweeney’s discrimination and substance abuse lawsuit, labeling her allegations as “threadbare.”

According to documents obtained by People, Cohen’s legal team contends that McSweeney’s claims that he exploited her struggles with alcohol for ratings should be “dismissed as a matter of law.”

This legal move comes three months after the former Real Housewives of New York star accused Bravo of capitalizing on her history of alcohol addiction and “mental health disorders” to boost ratings.

BravoCon - Season 2022
BRAVOCON — “Housewife2Housewife Panel from the Javits Center in New York City on Sunday, October 16, 2022” — Pictured: (l-r) Wendy Osefo, Drew Sidora, Leah McSweeney, Julia Lemigova — (Photo by: Evan Angelastro/Bravo)

In her lawsuit, McSweeney alleges that producers pushed her to drink through various methods, from coaxing her into it to denying her adequate time off to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which she claims violated her rights under employment law.

However, Cohen’s team insists they never specifically aimed to “feature inebriated cast members” on the Real Housewives franchise. They argue that even if they did, it would fall under their First Amendment rights.

The new filing asserts that McSweeney’s discrimination claims “impermissibly seek to abridge” Cohen’s “rights to tailor and adjust the messages they wish to convey in their creative works, including through cast selection and other creative decisions.”

“‘Whatever messages’ Defendants ‘communicate or intended to communicate’ with their shows are protected by the First Amendment,” the document continues, per People.

Andy Cohen
October 4 2016, New York City. Andy Cohen at the premiere of ‘Divorce' at the SVA Theater on October 4, 2016 in New York City. Photo By Line: Nancy Rivera/ACE Pictures

“Judicial intervention into casting decisions for expressive works ‘impermissibly regulates [Defendants’] right to alter the content of the story [they] tell—or choose not to tell.’”

Regarding McSweeney’s claims of gender/sex-based harassment, Cohen’s legal team argues that the statute of limitations has expired. They also contend that her “only timely allegation” does not meet the standards set by New York City Human Rights Law.

Shortly after the filing, McSweeney’s lawyer, Sarah Matz, stated that Cohen’s motion lacked “merit.” “It mostly argues for dismissal on technical grounds, essentially saying that Defendants were allowed to discriminate against Ms. McSweeney — not that they did not do it,” she said in a statement.

“To agree with the Defendants would be to essentially say that the creative industries are not subject to anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws and that networks could engage in discrimination and retaliation with impunity, which is not the law.”

Opening Night Of The Play POTUS On Broadway
Opening Night Of The Play POTUS On Broadway. Featuring: Leah McSweeney
Where: New York, New York, United States. When: 01 May 2022. Credit: JOHN NACION/startraksphoto.com

In addition to Cohen, McSweeney sued Bravo, Shed Media (the production company behind the shows), and Warner Media, which owns Shed.

Elsewhere in McSweeney’s lawsuit, she alleges that Cohen “engages in cocaine use with Housewives that he employs” and that his “proclivity for cocaine usage with his employees is well-known throughout the Real Housewives franchise.”

However, a Cohen representative told us the claims were “completely false,” and Cohen himself later called them “hurtful.”

“Obviously, it’s no fun to be a target,” he told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. “But I have no regrets about the way I’ve handled anything.”

Andy Cohen
February 29 2016, New York City. Andy Cohen arrives at the studios of ‘Watch What Happens Live' on February 29 2016 in New York City. Photo By Line: Curtis Means/ACE Pictures

“I think everything that happens in your life informs the next thing that happens in your life,” he continued. “That’s the way I look at all this. I know what the truth is and I know how I’ve conducted myself, and I walk tall every day on that.”

The following day, Cohen was cleared by the network after an “outside investigation” found the drug claims “to be unsubstantiated.” Yet, McSweeney’s team wasn’t convinced.

“How do you have an investigation without speaking with anyone? As far as we know, no one ever contacted our firm,” her lawyer, Gary Adelman, said in a statement. “Our opinion is that no one is going to believe this was a real investigation.”


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