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Why Claims of Racial Discrimination Against Paula Deen Were Dismissed

Celebrity chef Paul Deen has certainly been in the news this summer. As a defendant in a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by a former employee of Deen’s restaurants, Deen was deposed on May 17. During that deposition, Deen admitted that she had used a racial slur in the past. That revelation cost Deen her job at the Food Network (which did not renew Deen’s contract) as well as several lucrative product endorsements.

Lisa Jackson, who was a former manager at two restaurants owned and run by Deen and her family members, filed the lawsuit in federal court. Jackson claimed that Deen and her brother committed numerous acts of racial discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse during the course of Jackson’s five years of employment. According to a CNN report, with regard to racial discrimination Jackson specifically alleged:

  • That a “racially biased attitude prevailed throughout and pervaded defendants restaurant operations”
  • That African-American employees were required to use the restaurant’s rear entrance only
  • That the racist atmosphere caused Jackson “immense personal and work related emotional and physical distress” because “employees came to her to complain and for help, which she felt obligated to give but was unable to fully provide”
  • That Jackson was a victim of racial discrimination because “the conduct denies her right to associate in the workplace with persons of other races,” depriving her of “harmonious working relationships with her African-American subordinates” and denied her “the right to work free from racial harassment”

The judge dismissed Jackson’s claim of racial discrimination for one reason. Jackson’s claims of racial discrimination were allegedly targeted against African-American employees. But because Jackson is white, she cannot claim to be a victim. However Jackson’s claims of abuse and sexual harassment were unaffected by the dismissal of the racial discrimination claim.

If you are a victim of racial discrimination, speak to an experienced attorney to find out your legal rights and remedies.

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Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Robert J. Pantina
Attorney

About Robert J. Pantina joined the firm in 2018. Mr. Pantina received his B.A. from Rider University in 2008. He received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2017. While in law school, Mr. Pantina interned for the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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