Celebrity Chef Paula Deen Slapped with Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

When celebrity “comfort food” chef Paula Deen recently disclosed that she’d been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, the revelation made national headlines and provoked criticism that her rich Southern-style cooking might have been to blame for her illness; now, she’s back in the news with another setback: a sexual harassment lawsuit. Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, face some pretty embarrassing and shocking charges.

Here’s the scoop, according to celebrity gossip site TMZ.com…

Lisa Jackson, the general manager at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House – Deen’s Savannah, Georgia restaurant – alleges that she suffered serious harassment over the course of six years of employment. Here are the most incendiary charges:

• Bubba Hiers visited X-rated websites on the kitchen’s computer and never logged off. He thus created an atmosphere of “inescapable pornography.”
• Bubba told off-color jokes and insulted female employees by calling them “fat girls”;
• Bubba told Jackson “you have nice legs.”
• Bubba “kissed Lisa on the face.”
• Bubba “used the n-word a lot and made horrible racist jokes.”

Lawyers for Deen quickly countered Jackson’s allegations, calling them “false.” They also claimed that Jackson filed the lawsuit only after Deen refused to pay her to keep mum about the alleged kitchen harassment.

Unfortunately, “terrible, no good, very bad behavior” and “restaurant workplaces” seem to go together far too often. If these allegations of racist comments and harassment are true, they don’t bode well for Deen’s career or public image.

If you know someone who has struggled with workplace harassment in a restaurant kitchen – or retaliation, discrimination or wage and hour violations – turn to the team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP. Connect with our experienced restaurant workplace attorneys at (212) 688-5640, or visit us online at www.jhllp.com to learn more.

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