‘Real Housewives’ trips, ‘Scandoval’ backlash and Andy Cohen: Everything to know about the 3 Bravo lawsuits happening right now

Andy Cohen of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty Images) (Bravo via Getty Images)

On Feb. 29, almost one year after her Vanderpump Rules cheating scandal referred to by fans as “Scandoval” — came to a head, the ex-cast member formerly known as Raquel Leviss sued her former co-stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix.

Leviss’s filing is the third lawsuit in the Bravo universe to be announced since the beginning of 2024. The first two came from former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Caroline Manzo and ex-The Real Housewives of New York cast member Leah McSweeney. All three seem to echo the call made by former The Real Housewives of New York cast member Bethenny Frankel in 2023 for a “reality reckoning.

In August 2023, a team of lawyers who partnered with Frankel wrote a letter to Bravo hinting at an upcoming major lawsuit. The letter accused Bravo and its parent company, NBCUniversal, of “a pattern and practice of grotesque and depraved mistreatment of reality stars and crew members.”

Frankel has yet to file her own lawsuit against Bravo, and it’s unclear whether or when that will happen. But the other recent lawsuits have made some wonder if this might be the beginning of the end of Bravo’s reality reign.

Angela Reddock-Wright, an employment lawyer and mediator based in Los Angeles, told Yahoo Entertainment that it’s a new legal area to be explored, considering filming for reality TV is such an untraditional work environment.

“We've yet to test how far these types of claims go in reality TV, where the audience is looking for major drama and people are living lives that the rest of us don't live normally,” she said. But, she added, “there are still protections, even in these somewhat nuanced environments.”

Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Caroline Manzo vs. Bravo

At the end of January, Caroline Manzo, one of the original matriarchs on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, sued Bravo over an alleged incident between her and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Brandi Glanville when the two were filming a Housewives spin-off for Peacock called Ultimate Girls Trip.

In January 2023, outlets reported that Glanville and Manzo would be departing a girls trip early after Glanville allegedly tried to kiss Manzo multiple times without her consent during a party.

The lawsuit claims that employees associated with Bravo and its affiliate companies — including Forest Productions, Warner Bros. Entertainment, NBCUniversal Media, Shed Media and Peacock TV — “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.” Glanville is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

In February, representatives for Peacock and Shed Media issued a joint statement to People, writing: “The safety and security of cast and crew while shooting is extremely important and we take all reports seriously. In this situation, production immediately launched a comprehensive review and is taking appropriate action.”

Reddock-Wright emphasized that federal and state laws against harassment apply to any workplace, even if it’s reality TV.

“If it’s a situation where the environment or the producers are actively doing something to promote [harassment], I think it creates a colorable claim,” she said. “It will depend on how the facts and the evidence unfolds.”

Reddock-Wright also pointed out that judges and juries will be privy to the fact that the events in question happened during filming for a reality show.

“On some level — not that it excuses harassing or discriminatory behavior — but there might be a question as to whether the individuals, the talent on the shows, consented to it or agreed to it on some level.”

The Real Housewives of New York’s Leah McSweeney vs. Bravo

On Feb. 27, former The Real Housewives of New York cast member Leah McSweeney announced her own lawsuit against Bravo.

According to the suit, McSweeney claims that the show made it difficult for her to remain sober as she also grappled with personal mental health issues. She alleges that producers tried to manipulate her into drinking and “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.”

McSweeney also accused Andy Cohen, an executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise and host of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, of making sexual comments toward the women on the shows. A representative for Cohen told Deadline that “the claims against Andy are completely false!”

According to Reddock-Wright, workplace discrimination claims have to be based on some protected characteristic, usually race, age or gender.

“The only thing I can think of is that she’s trying to connect her alcohol use and claiming that in itself is a disability or medical condition and [Cohen] is treating her differently because of it,” she said. “It is definitely a nuanced argument in terms of creating a disability claim.”

Reddock-Wright added that McSweeney essentially has to prove that her addiction and subsequent sobriety are a disability or “protected characteristic” that Bravo and Cohen were violating. Reddock-Wright said McSweeney has to convey to the judge and jury that reality TV isn’t a traditional work environment but a work environment nonetheless.

Vanderpump Rules’ Rachel Leviss vs. Bravo, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval

“Scandoval” was the cheating scandal heard round the world in March 2023, when news broke that Rachel Leviss had become romantically involved with Tom Sandoval despite his long-term relationship with Ariana Madix. Even people who had never watched an episode of Vanderpump Rules were now exposed to fans analyzing the messy love triangle.

One year later, Leviss filed a lawsuit accusing Madix and Sandoval of “eavesdropping, revenge porn, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Leviss’s claims of eavesdropping, revenge porn and invasion of privacy stem from the fact that Madix found out about the affair by finding a video of Leviss on Sandoval’s phone that Leviss alleges was filmed without her consent.

The emotional distress claim comes from the allegation that Bravo and production company Evolution subjected Leviss to a “public skewering” that, per the lawsuit, turned her into “one of the most hated women in America.”

“It's definitely illegal to record individuals without their knowledge,” Reddock-Wright said.

The Season 10 finale of Vanderpump Rules, which aired in the aftermath of “Scandoval,” was the season’s most-watched episode, with more than double the viewership of the previous season’s finale. Leviss, who has been featured on the show since 2016, left the show and went to a mental health facility for three months in 2023.

Ultimately, Reddock-Wright said that while all three lawsuits seem to be making reasonable claims, the outcomes of these cases will depend on whether a judge and jury will be able to see reality TV sets as a regular work environment.

“The outcome will depend on how the evidence unfolds,” she said. “And certainly, if nothing else, these are interesting claims that we'll all be watching to see what happens.”