Lisa Jackson, the former restaurant manager embroiled in a legal battle against Paula Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers, says that the lawsuit she put forward against the celebrity chef was never about racism. In response to a severe blowback ignited by comments Deen made during depositions, Jackson issued a statement saying that her issue with Deen centers over her “disrespect and degradation of people that she deems to be inferior.”
The “lawsuit has never been about the N-word,” Jackson said in a statement, published by WEWS News Channel5.
Jackson, who was the general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, a restaurant co-owned by Hiers and Deen, filed a suit against the pair and their companies last year. In the suit, Jackson alleged that Hiers had sexually and racially harassed employees and that Deen had made racist slurs, including using the N-word.
The case gained widespread attention after Deen admitted in court to Jackson’s allegation that she had told employees she wanted them to participate in a plantation-themed wedding for her brother, in which they should dress up as slaves. However, Deen vehemently denied using the N-word in that context, saying that she had used it years earlier after being robbed at gunpoint.
Deen shot back at Jackson on Thursday, accusing the plaintiff of being unqualified to lodge the complaints she made. According to the Courthouse News Service, Deen moved for legal sanctions, citing that because Jackson is a white woman, she does not have the requisite standing to pursue racial discrimination claims. Deen reportedly cited a motion made by Hiers, that accused Jackson of lying about having biracial nieces in order to make her case seem more personal.
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"Jackson's deposition also puts the lie to her allegations regarding Paula Deen," Hiers’ motion stated. "Jackson testified that she has never heard Paula Deen make a racist remark, other than when she described the clothing she'd like the wait staff to wear at her brother's wedding. However, Jackson mentioned nothing in her deposition about Paula Deen ever using the N word, despite describing the 'sum total of the conversation.'"
The motion continued, "Thus, in the more than two months since Jackson and [her partner] Sumerlin's testimony and despite knowing that Jackson's race based claims hung by the thinnest of threads previously, Jackson's counsel have neither corrected the second amended complaint, nor any of their briefs before this court where they held Jackson's lie up as support for her race based claims."
Deen has been fired from partnerships with Walmart, Target, Home Depot, JC Penney, The Food Network and Smithfield Pork as a result of the lawsuit. In a tearful interview on the “Today” show on Wednesday, Deen denied the racism allegations and said that there had been “some very hurtful lies said about me.”