Yesterday, news broke that Paula Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers were named in a sexual harassment lawsuit, but we imagined that it was mostly Hiers' actions listed in the complaint. Sadly, we were oh so wrong.
Not only does the lawsuit list Bubba Hiers' sexual jokes, racist jokes, and "inescapable pornography," but plaintiff Lisa Jackson also claims that the queen of Southern cooking herself made racist and sexist comments.
The co-owners of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House are charged with sexual harassment, infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, and the breaking of Jackson's employment contract, among other things.
Some of the more inflammatory claims involve Hiers telling Jackson, "If there's one thing I've learned from my sister, if it ever comes down to firing a guy or a girl, you let the girl go because they are a dime a dozen and you can always find a girl to come work for you, but it's hard to find good guys."
Jackson also claims she was paid less than lower-level managers at Lady & Sons Restaurant, and her bonus was withdrawn after her divorce, given corporate manager Karl Schumacher's opinion that divorce is as sin. Schumacher reportedly once said in her presence, "Women are stupid because they think they can work and have babies and get everything done."
The most outrageous, however, is Paula Deen's behavior, who Jackson claims was also active in the sexist discrimination within the Paula Deen family of companies.
Jackson claims that when she asked Deen how to plan Hiers' wedding, Deen said, "Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n****** to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days... Now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn't it? But we can't do that because the media would be on me about that."
Deen's camp has responded with lawyer Greg Hodges claiming that the charges in the lawsuit are false. Hodges confirmed that Jackson did work for Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, as well as Paula Deen Enterprises. The claims, however, are a ruse for money, Hodges said.
"We investigated those claims and attempted unsuccessfully to address those claims with her. She made, prior to filing the lawsuit, baseless and inflammatory allegations threatening Ms. Deen’s reputation and the reputation of her businesses unless a sum of money was paid to her," Hodges told At Law. "We did not pay that money. Her allegations are false, and we look forward to our day in court."