The Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Has Been Tossed, But Paula Deen Is Still Toast
A judge’s decision to toss the racial discrimination lawsuit that sparked a backlash the size of the state of Georgia has likely brought some relief to embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen. But she’s probably not skipping and whistling around Savannah, GA just yet.
U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. threw out the case because “there are no allegations that defendant Hiers’s racially offensive comments were either directed toward plaintiff or made with the intent to harass her,” reads the opinion. So there’s no evidence that the comments were directed at Lisa Jackson, but there’s still the issue of the inflammatory remarks. The court didn’t say Deen never made the comments, just that Jackson, as a white person, couldn’t sue over them.
Jackson’s case “claimed that a racist atmosphere caused her ‘immense personal and work related emotional and physical distress’ because ’employees came to her complain and for help, which she felt obligated to give but was unable to fully provide,'” reports CNN.
“She suffered from the discrimination because ‘the conduct denies her right to associate in the workplace with persons of other races,” the suit said. It deprived her of “harmonious working relationships with her African-American subordinates” and denied her “the right to work free from racial harassment,'” the allegations continue.
While that case has been tossed, the pieces of the lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and abusive treatment are still alive in the courts.
Even with the racial discrimination part of the case closed, there’s still the matter of Deen’s empire. It has been decimated by the controversy, with tons of companies breaking their partnerships with her and fans jumping ship. But if the racial discrimination case has been tossed, there is the question of whether her reputation can be fixed.
Starr Jones and Donny Deutsch addressed the issues this morning on the TODAY show, and they had the most succinct and clever explanation for why the Deen ship has sailed (or sunk, depending on how you want to use that metaphor). Deutsch said simply, “It doesn’t help her at all unfortunately because corporations know the truth… Corporations will never be able to stand next to her.”
Jones added, quoting Maya Angelou, “They’ll forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how it made them feel.” Yes.
CNN Money says that Deen’s net worth is still $10 million, but her annual revenue has been reduced to $3 million because of this case. Brian Warner, managing editor of CelebrityNetWorth.com, notes that Dog the Bounty Hunter star Duane “Dog” Chapman was able to make something of a comeback after he made his racist remarks. But he’s no where near the level of fame he once had. (A quick look at the A&E Network website doesn’t show that the program is still on the air.) The stink of disgusting bias and racial offense is hard to wash off.
Stay wherever you are Paula Deen. Work out your lawsuits, be happy that your restaurants are still bringing in money. As for that empire, it appears to have crumbled.