Paula Deen’s Attorneys say Sexual, Racial Harassment Accusations are False

Paula DeenAttorneys for Paula Deen said Tuesday that a
former worker who claimed she was sexually harassed and subjected to a
hostile work environment at a restaurant co-owned by Deen and her
brother made false claims after the celebrity chef refused to pay her to
keep quiet.

SOURCE: The Associated Press


A lawsuit filed Monday
by Lisa Jackson “makes false allegations against Paula Deen and they
will be proven false in court,” said a statement from the Oliver Maner
law firm, representing Deen. The law firm said the suit was filed in a
local court after the Southern cooking star refused to pay the woman to
“address false claims.”

Attorneys for Jackson, a former general manager at the restaurant, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Jackson
said in the lawsuit that her doctor encouraged her to quit her post at
Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah because she suffered
from panic attacks and other stress. The restaurant is owned by Deen and
her brother Bubba Hiers.

Jackson, who is white, was hired at the restaurant in February 2005 and within months was promoted to general manager.

Jackson
said in the lawsuit that Hiers routinely made inappropriate sexual and
racial remarks and that she heard both Hiers and Deen use racial slurs.
The woman also said in the suit that she saw Hiers violently shake a
black employee and that he fostered a workplace environment of
intimidation.

Deen’s law firm said they had investigated Jackson’s claims and had unsuccessfully attempted to address them with her.

“She
has made baseless, inflammatory allegations, threatening to go to the
press and ruin Paula Deen’s reputation and the reputation of her
businesses unless we paid her a large sum of money,” the firm’s
statement said. “We refused to bow to that kind of pressure and refused
to pay money to address false claims.”

Jackson’s lawsuit, filed in Chatham County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.

Hiers
soon began targeting her with unwanted advances, the suit said, adding
that he watched pornography in the small office the two shared. He also
distributed pictures of two women having sex at an office meeting and
complained about heavier staff members, the complaint said.

She
said in the suit that Hiers also required black staff members at his
restaurant to use the back entrance and banned them from using a
customer restroom that white staffers were allowed to use.

Jackson
said she routinely suffered from panic attacks that often began when
Hiers came to work each morning. The situation came to a head in August
2010 when Jackson said Hiers grabbed her face during a dinner for
vendors at the restaurant and declared “I love you,” then later screamed
at her and spit in her face, according to the suit.

Jackson said she left her job days later after her doctor suggested quitting would improve her health.

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