All claims dismissed against Paula Deen in employee lawsuit
Paula Deen no longer faces claims in the lawsuit that led to the fall of her food empire.
According to court documents filed in Savannah, Ga., all claims against the TV chef have been dismissed in the suit brought by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson, with no award of costs or fees to any party. Jackson had sued on the grounds that the work environment at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, owned by Deen and her brother, subjected employees to sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
The news comes two weeks after a federal judge threw out the lawsuit's race discrimination claims, stating that though others may have faced that discrimination in the restaurant, Jackson could not sue since she was not one of the victims. Friday's agreement was filed with prejudice, which means Jackson cannot refile the lawsuit.
"While this has been a difficult time for both my family and myself, I am pleased that the judge dismissed the race claims and I am looking forward to getting this behind me, now that the remaining claims have been resolved," Deen said in a statement to TODAY, in which she vowed to work on the problems raised in the lawsuit, despite its resolution.
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"During this time my faith has strengthened me and the tremendous outpouring of support as well as prayers from folks from all walks of life has been both humbling and overwhelming. I am confident that those who truly know how I live my life know that I believe in kindness and fairness for everyone. Lisa Jackson worked at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House for more than five years and we appreciate her service. Moving forward my team and I are working to review the workplace environment issues that were raised in this matter and to retool all of my businesses operations. I look forward to getting back to doing what I love."
Jackson, who told TODAY in July that her lawsuit "has never been about the N-word," but rather "to address Ms. Deen's patterns of disrespect and degradation of people that she deems to be inferior," suggested Friday that her issues with Deen had been settled.
"During a very difficult period in my life the Deen family gave me hope and the opportunity to work to build a brighter future for my family and me," Jackson said in a statement to TODAY.
"I assumed that all of my complaints about the workplace environment were getting to Paula Deen, but I learned during this matter that this was not the case. The Paula Deen I have known for more than eight years, is a woman of compassion and kindness and will never tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind toward anyone. I now know that the workplace environment issues that I raised are being reviewed and will in the future no longer be at issue. I wish Ms. Deen and her family all the best in all of their future endeavors and I am very pleased that this matter has been now been resolved and can now be put behind us."
The ruling may have come too late for Deen, who lost at least 12 lucrative business deals after her May 17 deposition went public, which included revelations that the TV chef had used the N-word and admitted planning a "plantation-style" Southern wedding.
Companies from The Food Network to Walgreens, J.C. Penney, Smithfield Foods, and Wal-Mart terminated their relationships with Deen, and some experts believe the damage will be lasting.
"Unfortunately for her, corporations will never be able to stand next to her," ad executive Donny Deutsch told TODAY this month. "Even if five years go by, and they say, ‘Paula, we know you’re a good person, and you made a stupid mistake,’ and they say, ‘We’re going to line up with you,’ then they get thousands of letters from consumers (saying) ‘I’m not shopping in your store anymore.'’’