Friday, March 9, 2012

Paula Deen (insert cooking pun) Sexual Harassment Lawsuit - COTW #82

Mmm, do you smell that? Somethin' is cooking in Paula Deen's kitchen... and it's a sexual harassment lawsuit! With a sidedish of battery, and a heeping helping of emotional distress claims. Could somebody pass the Complaint?

In Jackson v. Paula Deen (complaint here), a former employee at one of Deen's restauarant's filed a lawsuit alleging all kinds of abusive conduct. The allegations include numerous corporate employees, Paula Deen's brother, and of course, Paula herself. I know, you're salivating over the Paula Deen allegations... well, dig in:
  • “[Plaintiff] replaced a General Manager that was allegedly sleeping with servers.” Paula Deen said, “if you think I have worked this hard to lose everything because of a piece of pussy, you better think again . . . . and now I am going to do something I have never done. I am going to put a woman in a man’s job.”
  • At a meeting Paula called out, and pointed at, only the female managers. When a man tried to defend Plaintiff, Paula told him to “shut up, I’m not talking to you about this. I pay you to handle that part of it.”
  • Plaintiff was in charge of food for Paula’s brother’s wedding. Paula said, “I want a true southern plantation-style wedding . . . . Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around . . . . Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it?”
Paula can really dish it out (allegedly). Sounds like a recipe for a lawsuit! We're just at the pleading stage though, so these are only allegations. Maybe we should put this one back in the oven and set the timer for summary judgment to see what's really cookin'. Is this just a disgruntled employee stirring up trouble? Will justice be served? Will the wrongdoers (if any) get their just desserts?

OK, I'm done (well done?).

For more coverage (and puns!) see: Eric Meyer's The Employer Handbook: What's Cookin' in Celeb Chef Paula Deen's Kitchen? Discrimination?

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.