Judge throws out racial discrimination claim against Paula Deen

Lisa Jackson's lawsuit led to the downfall of the chef's career

Published August 13, 2013 3:44PM (EDT)

Paula Deen can declare one small win today, as a judge has dismissed racial discrimination allegations in a lawsuit filed by former employee Lisa Jackson. Jackson's suit first exposed Deen's use of racially offensive terms, including the "N-word," which quickly unraveled Deen's Food Network career.

But U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr has ruled that Jackson, who is white, did not personally suffer any harassment on grounds of race. The Associated Press reports:

Lisa Jackson sued Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, last year saying she suffered from sexual harassment and racially offensive talk and employment practices that were unfair to black workers during her five years as a manager of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House. Deen is co-owner of the restaurant, which is primarily run by her brother.

But claims of race discrimination by Jackson, who is white, were gutted in the 20-page opinion by U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. The judge agreed with lawyers for Deen and Hiers that Jackson has no standing to sue her former employers for what she claims was poor treatment of black workers, regardless of her claims that she was offended and placed under additional stress.

Jackson, at best, 'is an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination,' Moore said in his ruling. 'There are no allegations that defendant Hiers's racially offensive comments were either directed toward plaintiff or made with the intent to harass her.'

As has been thoroughly documented in both the deposition and elsewhere, Deen has admitted to using racially offensive language in the past. For Deen, the damage has been done: The public outcry over the revelation led to Deen's ousting from The Food Network and the loss of most of her endorsement deals.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Food Network Law Lawsuit Paula Deen Racism