Paula Deen gets some good news (sort of) about her racial discrimination lawsuit

Paula Deen is not guilty! IF THE HAM DOESN’T FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT. Sort of. Not really though. Throughout Butter-gate (or Racist-gate, or Deen-gate, whatever you want to call it), I always maintained that while Paula seemed to be getting so much criticism for admitting to saying the n-word once, decades ago, the real story was and is the lawsuit against Paula and her brother Bubba, and the long-standing accusations of racism against both of them by multiple employees. The outstanding lawsuit – brought against Paula and Bubba by Lisa Jackson – was partially thrown out yesterday though. But it’s tricky, and I’ll get to that in a moment:

Finally, some good news for Paula Deen. The disgraced celebrity chef was cleared of race discrimination claims filed by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson, a judge ruled in Savannah, Georgia on Monday, Aug. 12. The Associated Press reports U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore threw out Jackson’s claims that Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers subjected her to racist attitudes during the five years she worked at their restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House.

Jackson also filed sexual harassment claims against Deen and Hiers; those charges still stand in the ongoing case.

“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling today that Lisa Jackson’s claims of race discrimination have been dismissed,” a rep for Deen tells Us Weekly. “As 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.”

Deen’s testimony during the case, of course, became her undoing. The Georgia native admitted under oath to using the N-word — and despite numerous taped apologies and a tearful interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, Deen was dropped by the Food Network as well as the majority of her business partners, including JCPenney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Home Depot and Smithfield Foods. Her publisher, Ballantine, also canceled upcoming cookbook plans, and QVC has “decided to take a pause” with the star. She subsequently parted ways with her legal team and with her longtime agent.

[From Us Weekly]

Here is the way I’m reading this, and go ahead and yell at me if you think I’m wrong. I think the “racial discrimination” part of the lawsuit was thrown out because Lisa Jackson is white, and the judge thought she had no standing to be racially discriminated against. From what I’ve read about the case, it seems like Jackson claimed she had witnessed Paula and Bubba saying and doing racist things and that their words and actions constituted a hostile work environment. But the judge disagreed, basically telling Lisa Jackson that because she’s not black, she has no business being offended. That’s how I’m reading it. It will be interesting to see what happens to the rest of the lawsuit.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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37 Responses to “Paula Deen gets some good news (sort of) about her racial discrimination lawsuit”

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  1. Jenny says:

    No yelling necessary; I think you are spot on. If anything, the one thing I would add is that because Ms. Jackson is white the judge felt she had no standing for a racial discrimination lawsuit because she personally was not being discriminated against based on race, not that she should not have been offended or that it did not create a hostile work place. I think there have been similar rulings when people who are not gay have challenged laws like Prop 8 or DOMA.

    • atrain says:

      That was exactly it – her lawyer used a Prop 8 defense, and it worked. Not sure this is exactly what the law makers had in mind, though…

  2. Jane says:

    She might have won the case, but she still lost a good portion of her empire and respect from people. Period.

  3. Joiq says:

    Yes, I absolutely agree that Paula’s demise was not from saying the n word years ago, but that lawsuit against her and Bubba. Remember how there were transcripts released? I think that was what did her empire in. But I do believe that she will be back in some capacity.

  4. blue marie says:

    I think you’re probably right.

  5. Marjalane says:

    I read it as some disgruntled employee brought a baseless case to try and extort some money, and the judge shut her down. I’ve always disliked Paula Deen and her butter empire, but this entire case was SO blown out of proportion. 30 years ago, and she was honest about it. The media actually made it much worse than it was.

    • Tessa says:

      God I hope that’s not true. I hope there’s at least some truth to this whole mess, because the complete defamation of Paula’s character is irreversible at this point. She’s done. And if this was all a lie and extortion, it would be terribly sad.

    • L says:

      As I said below, the suit is still pending. Just this one thing was thrown out because it’s okay to say racist things in front of other white people apparently and they can’t sue you.

    • fingerbinger says:

      The case wasn’t about something that happened 30 years ago. That was question from her deposition. The case was about continued racist remarks and sexual harassment that Lisa Jackson made against Paula and her brother.

      • Evie says:

        I thought Lisa Jackson had admitted in her own deposition that she had never personally seen PD use any racial slurs or use the n-word. Her information about the racism was second-hand, according to her.

  6. trudy221 says:

    Yes. You’re absolutely correct. I teaching “standing” to my students and I use an example which may help. If I’m standing on a street corner and suddenly a guy and a girl get into an argument and the guy punches the girl in the face, can I then go to a lawyer and say – I want to sue the guy for punching the girl in the face? No. You might be able to REPORT what happened of course, and you could even be a witness, but you don’t have STANDING in the actual case because you don’t have a “stake” in the outcome. The girl who got hit in the face certainly does because she has damages. You don’t. Same thing here. You’re right.

  7. janie says:

    I agree 100% regarding the gals color. This was not a clean win for Paula. The damage has been done, time to move on.

  8. Masque says:

    Unfortunately, the same people who defended Paula and who think this mess is over the use of the n-word 30 years ago are going to see the headline, ignore the context and blather on about Paula being vindicated and proven to be a non-racist.


  9. L says:

    The case is still active everyone, and is processing forward. It’s just this one small part that was dropped. The judge also said that the plantiff (Paula Deen) most likely said horrible racist things and created a hostile work environment, but that the person couldn’t sue under civil rights laws because she wasn’t black and didn’t have standing. Basically saying you can say all the racist stuff you want and unless that specific minority is around and you are a ‘victim’, you can’t sue for racial discrimination.

    “”While Plaintiff may have faced significant challenges in managing a workplace allegedly permeated with racial discrimination, her difficulties do not fall within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] and cannot support a claim for racial discrimination under that stature.”

    The rest of the case involving the hostile work environment and sexual harrassment is still very much in play.

    • Tessa says:

      “The judge also said that the plaintiff (Paula Deen) most likely said horrible racist things and created a hostile work environment.”

      I’m sorry, but what judge would say something like this while a trial is in process? You’re innocent until proven guilty and a judge is supposed to be unbiased and objective.

      • fingerbinger says:

        A judge who dismissed that part of the case can say that. This isn’t criminal trial, I believe it’s a civil suit. It’s not about guilt or innocence. It’s about culpability. Did Paula Deen and her brother create a hostile work environment.

      • SpunkyPR says:

        Well, didn’t she testify confirming all the things she said and did? Then it’s not hearsay, the plaintiff admitted to saying inappropriate words that are racist. I don’t think Paula has ever denied that, she’s just denied that she’s a racist. Paula has not vindicated herself and as far as I’m concerned, she’s a racist, just look at that YouTube video of a talk show she did in Europe where she brought on stage, one of her assistant’s who’s black.

      • L says:

        What @fingerbinger said.

        The judge made those comments as she was dismissing that particular part of the suit. She hasn’t made any comments about the parts of the suit still pending.

        There’s also no guilt/innocent in civil court. Look at OJ. Found liable for something he was technically ‘not guilty’ of.

  10. neelyo says:

    Yay the Cheeto tumor photo returns! That’s the only good reason to see Paula back in the news.

    • MellyBee says:

      Yes, I thought that it was just me. Is that a Cheeto stuck to her face in the last pic?!?

  11. JudyK says:

    This ruling by the Judge does not exonerate or rectify one thing about the charges against Paula Deen, except the fact that the person bringing the charges was White, and, therefore, not in a position to bring discrimination charges.

    It does not change the fact that, despite one’s race, we should ALL be offended by racial slurs, offended when our friends and/or co-workers who are a different race are being treated unfairly, and offended by sexual harrassment.

    • TrustMeOnThis says:

      ITA, and thank you for saying so. Racism against races I am not a member of still offends me as a human being!

  12. Marjalane says:

    I was referring to the media shitstorm regarding her using the N-word 30 years ago. THAT was a bigger deal than this lawsuit.

    • JudyK says:

      Marjalane, the lawsuit was about three things: Racial slurs, racial discrimination, and sexual harrassment.

      It was not about the “so-called” one-time use of the “N” word. Corporate attorneys representing big corporate sponsors do not drop a client over a one-time slur.

      Reading the depositions and pleadings makes that clear.

  13. Faye says:

    I agree that it seems like a legal technicality. While it may have been offensive and uncomfortable for Lisa Jackson to have to witness the racist comments/actions, she can’t personally be compensated for them, as she wasn’t the target. The sexual harrassment charges still stand, note.

    Also, African American employees who *were* the target of the racism can still bring charges against Deen and her company. The charges themselves were not deemed false or baseless; the judge simply found that Jackson wasn’t the right person to be bringing them.

  14. You are right. Standing means the plaintiff has not basis to allege harm. It does NOT mean that the claims were baseless – the standing analysis doesn’t even reach the substantive issue. Also, the remaining claims are still in the lawsuit. So, while one claim was dismissed on the standing issue, which is no surprise to any lawyers who litigate these kinds of cases (like me), the remaining claims are moving forward.

  15. Lulu86 says:

    ‘Paula seemed to be getting so much criticism for admitting to saying the n-word once, decades ago’ Really??? i am suppose to believe this women only used the N word decades ago?

  16. Obvious says:

    I’m just curious. IF everything Lisa said was correct, why has no one else stepped forward (that I’ve heard about ) to corroborate? Or file their own suit? That’s what strikes me fishy. When she started losing everything would have been the time to strike.

    The fact no one else is coming out of the wood work is kinda telling to me. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I’m just saying it seems to be Lisa’s word against Paula, and frankly I’m more inclined to believe Paula at this moment.

    • cocomama419 says:

      Maybe Paula is paying them off. It’s not like she’s some hole in the wall restaurant owner. Even with all her recent loss she’s still has a multi-million dollar culinary empire.

      There are many reasons why someone wouldn’t come forward.The people that PD slurs were directed at could be too worried about job security, fear they didn’t have a case, being paid off,ect.

      Now that people see that there is a case, maybe in the coming months some folks will come forth.

      Plus I’m pretty sure I read somewhere PD past employees have backed up Lisa claims(to lazy to look).

  17. Madriani's Girl says:

    I never did understand how a white person would have a case against another white person for racism. She still shouldn’t have used that word, though.

  18. aenflex says:

    Is it me?
    I mean isn’t it racist not to let someone sue for racial discrimination based on the plaintiff’s race?

  19. Shaz says:

    Southern judge. If someone was mugging me I wouldn’t say anything inflammatory – sounds fishy to me. B@stard would come to mind. People who are guilty often admit to partial crimes. I’m just sayin’.

  20. Alexa says:

    Thank you commentors who have said that Ms. Deen is NOT being dropped from business partnerships because she said the n-word 30 years ago. I WILL go do more academic research regarding this case. I’m ashamed to admit that I found myself assuming that was what all the stink was about . . . So thank you for pushing me to discover the truth about this matter. It’s an especially important topic these days.

  21. RdyfrmycloseupmrDvlle says:

    OK…whatever to everything because I CANT get past the ponytails. NOONE remarks on the pony tails??!!! WTF!… one over the age of 12 should wear them and most especially women of her age. What look are we going for here? What ever happened to baby Jane???

    • jwoolman says:

      Women have been wearing their hair long and tied back in various ways into old age for eons. Please deal with it. Honestly, hairism is such a pain.