Former "Young and the Restless" star Victoria Rowell is suing the producers of the long-running soap opera, accusing the show of refusing to rehire her for almost two decades because of racism and her advocacy for African-Americans in the industry.

The New York Daily News reports Rowell filed suit in Manhattan Federal Court, alleging that black actors were routinely treated as second-class citizens on the show to the point she once had to hire a personal hairstylist for the show out of her own pocket. She seeks damages, back pay and front pay to be determined at trial

The 55-year-old Rowell appeared as Drucilla Winters in more than 2,000 shows from 1990 to 2007. According to court documents, "White actors and actresses taunted Ms. Rowell and the stylist with impunity and told Ms. Rowell her hair smelled."

Among other explosive claims, Rowell alleges fellow actress Melody Thomas Scott mockingly wore an oversized afro wig on set, and Michelle Stafford spit on her and called her a "freak" while shouting, "No one here likes you."

Rowell quit the show after writers made her character go insane, carting her off in a strait jacket for an asylum in one scene. The Drucilla Winters character ultimately fell off a cliff, and her body was never found.

"Ms. Rowell has been blacklisted from even being considered for roles on daytime television and on any CBS programming, not because of any acting deficiencies or viewers' desires, but because of retaliation for her advocacy for African-Americans in front of and behind the camera," court documents allege.

"We were disappointed to learn that, after leaving the cast of 'The Young and the Restless' on her own initiative, Ms. Rowell has attempted to rewrite that history through lawyers' letters and a lawsuit that has no merit," a CBS spokeswoman said. "We harbor no ill will toward Ms. Rowell, but we will vigorously defend this case."