A few months ago, we told you about a court case where celebrity chef Paula Deen was in hot water over reported racial and sexual abuse allegations against both Deen and her brother, Bubba Heirs. Despite losing multiple endorsement deals and her job at Food Network, Paula has finally gotten a win.
Claims of race discrimination in a lawsuit filed by former employee Lisa Jackson were addressed by U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. Judge Moore sided with Deen’s representation, stating that Jackson does not have the standing to sue her former employers, and at best, “is an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination.” Moore did not claim that the statements were never made, however, noted that “There are no allegations that defendant Hiers’s racially offensive comments were either directed toward plaintiff or made with the intent to harass her.”
The ruling does let claims of sexual harassment stand, but the judge did make a point to mention that he would not be allowing Jackson to sue based on the alleged abuse of other employees, as it “would serve to conscript federal courts as human resource departments that are responsible for imposing and monitoring a federally created standard for harmony in the workplace.”
While there has been considerable damage to her career, Deen’s publicist is feeling good about the ruling, and issued this statement to the Associated Press shortly after it was released:
“We are pleased with the court’s ruling today that Lisa Jackson’s claims of race discrimination have been dismissed, Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone.”
I may not have read this all correctly, but it’s my understanding that the judge did not acknowledge that this abuse had taken place, more that it was not directed at Jackson. Jackson happens to be white. While much of the basis for this lawsuit was racially motivated, its not a surprise that the majority of it was dismissed. I can’t help but wonder, will another employee who may actually been a victim of racial discrimination come forward, or was Jackson blowing things out of proportion to make a quick profit?
Do you think Paula Deen’s reputation can recover from here?