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Celebrity Chef Paula Deen Sued for Sexual Harassment and Racism in the Workplace

March 9, 2012

As Vincent Howard, managing attorney at Howard Law, reported yesterday in a Costa Mesa labor and employment lawyers blog, celebrity chef and Food Network star Mario Batali settled his class action wage and hour lawsuit this week, and will pay $5.25 million to a class of former workers, who accused the chef of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In another celebrity chef lawsuit from this week, that Vincent Howard has been following, fellow Food Network celebrity cook Paula Deen has been sued by former restaurant manager Lisa T. Jackson, for allegedly condoning an environment filled with sexual harassment and racism in her culinary restaurants.

Paula Dean and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, are reportedly being sued by Jackson, who managed Uncle Bubba's Oyster House--one of the five restaurants in Deen's culinary business, that she co-owns with her brother.

In the lawsuit, Jackson accuses Hiers of sexual harassment by displaying pornography in the workplace and behaving toward Jackson in a sexually aggressive and degrading way, including physical harassment and intimidation. Jackson also accuses Hiers of repeatedly using racial epithets, and engaging in racist behavior.

Jackson, 48, is a white woman, who reportedly managed a number of African American employees. She claims that while working as the General Manager for five years, she made a number of complaints to Deen and the restaurant management regarding the sexual harassment, racist behavior and abusive treatment--but the group allegedly failed to act on the complaints. Jackson also accuses Deen and Hier of workplace segregation, by forcing black employees to use a different bathroom in the back of the restaurant than the other employees.

According the Los Angeles Times, the worst allegation against Deen, who is often a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show and is known for her matronly persona and Southern charm, along with her comfort food recipes--is that she frequently used racial epithets and slurs against African Americans in the workplace.

Along with her restaurants, Deen is reportedly the star of two Food Network television shows, and the author of cookbooks that have sold over 8 million copies.

Jackson left her managerial job in August of 2010, after the management allegedly failed to act on her complaints of sexual harassment. Jackson is reportedly seeking unspecified damages for sexual harassment and emotional distress, among other charges.

In Dana Point, Huntington Beach, and Irvine, California, contact Howard Law's labor and employment attorney Vincent Howard today, for a free consultation about your Orange County labor and employment rights.

Paula Deen accused of condoning sexual harassment, racist remarks, The Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2012

Paula Deen Sued for Sexually Harassing Woman at Work, Reuters, March 5, 2012

Paula Deen Accused of Using N Word In Explosive New Lawsuit, Radar Online, March 5, 2012

Related Web Resources:
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Related Blog Posts:

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali to Pay $5.25M in Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement Over Tips, California Employment Lawyers Blog, March 8, 2012

Hollywood Actors Sued by Restaurant Employees for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 22, 2011

Employee Misclassification Leads to Nearly $1M in Back Pay for 30 Restaurant Workers, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 24, 2011

CA Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement--66 Japanese Employees to Receive $145K in Overtime Back Wages, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 22, 2011

Another DOL Investigation Brings Restaurant Employees $275K in Overtime Back Wages , California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 18, 2011

Taqueria Restaurant to Pay Workers Nearly $250K in Overtime Back Pay and Minimum Wages, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 15, 2011

Mexican Restaurants To Pay Over $1M in Back Wages and Overtime, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 1, 2011

Class Action Status Granted in Wage and Hour Lawsuit Against Mario Batali's NY Restaurants, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 26, 2011

Celebrity Chef Sued in $1M Class Action Wage and Hour Suit--Files Bankruptcy, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 13, 2011

Feds Crack Down on Wage and Hour Violations in NY Restaurants, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 15, 2011

High-profile Celebrity Restaurateurs Hit with Wage and Hour Lawsuits, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 22, 2010

Chef Mario Batali's Del Posto Sued for Back Wages and Tips, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 20, 2010