Paula Deen's stellar career as a Food Network celebrity and endorsement darling imploded this past June. The cause? A deposition taken in correlation with a harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee of a restaurant co-owned by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers in which Deen admits to using the N-word.
That transcript was the catalyst that caused a chain reaction of vitriol against the once-loved chef and led to the cancellation of her Food Network shows and an unreleased book. Several major companies, including QVC, Smithfield, and Walmart, have dropped sponsorship deals with Deen.
Now, in a stroke of irony, a federal judge has ruled that Lisa T. Jackson, the former employee that is suing Deen and Hiers, has no standing in her racial discrimination claims.
According to the New York Times, Judge William T. Moore Jr., of Federal District Court in Savannah ruled that Ms. Jackson did not meet the standard for protection under federal law.
Judge Moore said that the claim, if allowed to be heard in court, would "serve to conscript federal courts as human-resources departments that are responsible for imposing and monitoring a federally created standard for harmony in the workplace."
This does not dismiss the entire lawsuit, which is based on claims of sexual discrimination against Deen's brother, Earl W. "Bubba" Hiers. A settlement is said to be in the works.
Deen's publicist, Elana Weiss, issued a statement to the Associated Press regarding the ruling, which stated, "We are pleased with the court's ruling today that Lisa Jackson's claims of race discrimination have been dismissed. As Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone."
Although Deen's career has taken a hit, the Savannah-based chef still has a large fan base and issues upbeat tweets about baking and personal appearances. A "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page has over 600,000 followers. The chef has announced two Paula Deen cruises and has recently tweeted an announcement regarding a new edition to her family, Gus:
My grandkids won't let me cuddle them as much as I want to, so I had to get my own cuddle buddy! Meet Gus, y'all! http://t.co/ZMMx0A5C25— Paula Deen (@Paula_Deen) August 12, 2013