Paula Deen Cleared of Racist Claims in Court

Celebrity News Aug. 13, 2013 AT 2:10PM
Paula Deen on NBC News' "Today Show" Paula Deen cleared of racial discrimination charges Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

The racial discrimination claims that practically destroyed Paula Deen's empire have been thrown out of court.

On Monday, a federal judge in Georgia ruled that Lisa Jackson, who is white, has no standing to sue Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, for race discrimination. Jackson had claimed that she endured both racism and sexual harassment during the five years she worked at Deen and Hiers's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia. The sexual harassment claims are still in play.

Deen's spokesperson issued a statement about the court's dismissal of the racial claims: "We are pleased with the Court's ruling today that Lisa Jackson's claims of race discrimination have been dismissed. 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."

But Jackson had alleged that Deen and Hiers regularly used racial slurs while she worked for them. In addition, another employee, who is black, claimed in a New York Times story that she was told to dress like Aunt Jemima and ring a dinner bell for customers.

Last month, Jackson explained to "Today" why she decided to file the suit.

"I may be a white woman, but I could no longer tolerate her abuse of power as a business owner, nor her condonation of [Deen's brother] Mr. Hiers's despicable behavior on a day-to-day basis," she noted. "I am what I am, and I am a human being that cares about discrimination in the workplace. In part, in this circumstance, I have to be a voice for those who are too afraid to."

As a result of Jackson's lawsuit, Deen, 66, gave the deposition in which she revealed that she's used the N-word several times in the past, including once when a black man held her at gun point during a bank robbery in 1986, and that she'd asked black employees to play the role of slaves at a wedding party.

By late June — just one month after the deposition was given — the full and unedited transcript of the testimony was leaked. The Food Network announced the next day that it would not renew Deen's contract, and companies such as Walmart and Caesars Entertainment dumped her in the following days.

Do you think the court ruling changes anything about Deen's public relations nightmare?

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