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Andy Cohen Demands Leah McSweeney Retract 'False, Offensive' Claims of Discrimination and Substance Misuse

In a lawsuit filed last week, McSweeney claimed Cohen and Bravo facilitated a "rotted" workplace culture where employees were pressured to consume alcohol

<p>Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty (2)</p> Andy Cohen (left) and Leah McSweeney

Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty (2)

Andy Cohen (left) and Leah McSweeney

Andy Cohen is responding to Real Housewives of New York City alum Leah McSweeney’s allegations of discrimination and substance misuse.

More than a week after McSweeney filed a lawsuit against the Watch What Happens Live host, Cohen’s attorney, Orin Snyder, said the filing is "littered with false, offensive, and defamatory statements” in a letter sent to McSweeney, which was obtained by Entertainment Tonight, Page Six and TMZ.

In the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, which was obtained by PEOPLE, McSweeney, 41, claimed the Real Housewives executive producer, 55, and Bravo facilitated a “rotted" workplace culture where employees were pressured to consume alcohol.

Snyder calls "virtually every" allegation made by the Bravo star "categorically false" and threatens further legal action if she does not “immediately” retract and withdraw claims about Cohen’s cocaine use.

<p>Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty</p> Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live"

Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty

Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live"

Related: RHONY's Leah McSweeney Reflects on 'Horrible' Relapse and 'Getting Totally Blackout Drunk' in Season 12 (Exclusive)

"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," the letter states. "To be clear: these allegations are categorically false. Mr. Cohen never used cocaine with any cast member on any Real Housewives show or with any other Bravo employee.”

“The allegations were obviously made up by you and/or your client to achieve maximum tabloid clickbait value in the hopes of weaponizing these false allegations -- along with other lies that permeate the complaint -- as leverage to force an unjustified settlement,” the letter continues. “It will not. Instead, this conduct only subjects you and your client to independent and substantial legal exposure."

The letter alleges that McSweeney and her attorney created “a media frenzy” in order to “force a settlement” between the reality star and Cohen.

"The truth matters. Litigation cannot be used to create fake news. And it cannot be used as a vehicle to spread false and malicious lies, in furtherance of a shakedown," the letter states. "We demand that you issue an immediate public retraction and apologize to Mr. Cohen. Every day you fail to do so only increases the damages suffered by Mr. Cohen."

<p>Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty</p> Leah McSweeney and Andy Cohen

Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Leah McSweeney and Andy Cohen

Related: Andy Cohen Apologizes After Brandi Glanville Accuses Him of Sexual Harassment, Says Explicit Proposal Was ‘Meant in Jest’

In response to the letter, McSweeney's lawyer, Sarah M. Matz, of Adelman Matz P.C., issued a statement to Variety, saying, "That Andy Cohen had his counsel and PR agents write a threatening letter to give to the press is hardly surprising.”

“Mr. Cohen is accustomed to using his power in the media to scare and intimidate people like Ms. McSweeney so that they will not speak out," the statement continued. "Mr. Cohen's attempt to discredit and intimidate Ms. McSweeney to deter her from engaging in legally protected activity in Court is exactly the type of retaliation that this lawsuit was brought to address and only is further evidence for Ms. McSweeney.”

“We do not intend to litigate this matter in the press, and if Mr. Cohen wants to address Ms. McSweeney's claims, we suggest he do so in Court, not in a letter for the press."

Lawyers for Cohen and McSweeney did not return PEOPLE's request for comment.

<p>John Nacion/WireImage; Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty</p> Leah McSweeney and Andy Cohen

John Nacion/WireImage; Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty

Leah McSweeney and Andy Cohen

Related: Andy Cohen Cautions Against Fraud Scams After 'Serious' Incident He Faced: 'I Don't Want This to Happen to Anyone'

A representative for Cohen previously denied the allegations in a statement to PEOPLE, saying, “The claims against Andy are completely false.”

In addition to Cohen and Bravo Media, the suit also names NBC Universal Media, Warner Bros. Discovery, production company Shed Media US and producers John Paparazzo, Lisa Shannon and Darren Ward.

McSweeney — who joined RHONY in 2019 for two seasons and appeared on season 3 of The Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip — alleges in the filing that the defendants failed to maintain a safe working environment and accommodate her disabilities, including "alcohol use disorder" and "mental health disorders." Reps for Cohen, Bravo, Shed and Warner Bros did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's initial request for comment on McSweeney’s allegations.

The fashion designer claimed in the filing that she told the producers she suffered from alcohol use disorder and had been sober for nine years until a brief relapse before filming season 12 of RHONY, but disclosed she wished to regain her sobriety. She further alleged in the suit that the producers intervened with her efforts to remain sober by "intentionally planning scenarios intended to exacerbate [her] disabilities," all in efforts to "create morbidly salacious reality television."

<p>Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty</p> Andy Cohen, Dolores Catania and Leah McSweeney on "Watch What Happens Live"

Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Andy Cohen, Dolores Catania and Leah McSweeney on "Watch What Happens Live"

Related: Andy Cohen, a 'Current Victim of Fraud,' Is 'Over' Jen Shah 'Lying' After She Slammed RHOSLC Finale

McSweeney also accused Cohen of engaging in “cocaine use with Housewives and other 'Bravolebrities' that he employs” and providing “favorable treatment and edits” to those he allegedly used the substance with.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a source denied the allegation that Cohen “does cocaine with any Housewives,” calling it “outrageous.”

The outlet also reported that a source close to the franchise’s production alleged that McSweeney was in talks about being cast on RHONY: Legacy but ultimately was not chosen for the ensemble, given her short tenure on the series. The production source told THR, “If she was cast in Legacy like she wanted, this wouldn’t be happening.”

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The Married to the Mob streetwear founder has also since shared a lengthy statement about her decision to file a civil suit. She shared on Instagram a carousel of text, in which she wrote in part, "I have love and respect for many of the Bravo talent and getting to know them was a positive experience in all of this. 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."

"I’ve been trying to address this internationally for years now but have been dismissed, stone-walled, and gaslit (but actually) at every turn since. Bravo can try to manipulate my reality and others’ all they want, but the cold hard facts of this case are as real as it gets," she continued.

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