Paula Deen's accuser says it's not 'about the N-word'

The woman who's suing the celebrity chef says her case is more concerned with the 'abuse of power.'

By Aimee Picchi Jul 3, 2013 12:24PM

Paula Deen (© Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)While much of America is split about whether Paula Deen deserves to have lost high-profile deals from the likes of Food Network and Wal-Mart (WMT), her accuser is seeking to refocus the conversation beyond race. 

Deen's business losses came after she admitted in a deposition that she used the N-word, said it was fine that her brother showed pornography to employees at work and that she taught her children it was OK to use the racial slur in a joke. In the aftermath, Deen has lost deals and sponsorships, although she also received one new offer: a six-figure deal to serve as the spokeswoman for a porn site featuring older women. 

But the woman who filed the harassment lawsuit against Deen said in a statement to CNN that her legal action "has never been about the N-word."

Instead, Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Ga., said the case is about her ex-boss's "abuse of power as a business owner." She's suing Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, alleging they committed acts of violence, discrimination and racism. 

"I may be a white woman, but I could no longer tolerate her abuse of power as a business owner, nor her condonation of Mr. Hier's despicable behavior on a day-to-day basis," Jackson said. "I am what I am, and I am a human being that cares about all races, and that is why I feel it is important to be the voice for those who are too afraid to use theirs."

Some fans continue to support the embattled TV chef, creating a We Support Paula Deen Facebook page and defending her from criticism. Fans have even named July 3 as Paula Deen Appreciation Day.

But Jackson's statement raises another host of questions about Deen as a manager, and those are issues that employees with bosses who prefer sticks to carrots will relate to. In Deen's case, she appears to have not only slathered her stick in butter and sugar but thrown in some alleged racism as well. 

Deen may be discovering that such techniques aren't the right ingredients for effective management. As the Harvard Business Review points out in a blog post about leadership, fear "can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem solving, and cause employees to get stuck and even disengage."

Or, in Deen's case, lead to a lawsuit. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

More on moneyNOW

Jul 3, 2013 1:23PM
I was just in San Francisco and a young black man walking in front of me was rapping.  He said the N word at least 15 times in the short period of time I was behind him.  If it's NOT acceptable - then STOP saying it!
Jul 3, 2013 1:14PM
Gotta love the double standard society we live in.
Jul 3, 2013 1:36PM

So how many times have I heard ,,white trash, honkie or cracker connected to a law suit or loss of sponsorship?

Some things suck but this really SUCKS!




Jul 3, 2013 1:47PM

What bothers me the most is that the same week the Paula Deen scandal broke, Serena Williams said in an interview that a Steubenville Ohio rape victim shouldn't have put herself in that position.  Where was the outrage over her remark?  Not one women's group took offense at that?

Jul 3, 2013 1:32PM
I fully support Paula. She apologized, which is more than I can say for most people, so can we please move on and worry about something worth while like our economy and what the government is doing while we are all distracted with trivial crap? They spy on legal citizens, take a hundred million dollar vacation to Africa while they won't let kids into the capital and cancel fire works for our soldiers or give them warm meals. The IRS is spying on people, taking money from taxpayers and our brainless leader is sending millions to terrorists even after he was told he couldn't do it. Let's stay focused and stop letting them divide us and keep us away from what they are doing. I guarantee it's a lot worse than the N word no matter who's saying it. Our nation is in a mess and getting worse every day so lets all stay on track and vote these morons out of office in the coming elections.
Jul 3, 2013 1:35PM

Okay, so I get that these big companies don't want to take any risk.  But she still has a butt load of fans out there, as shown by how many books fans bought in just the last couple of weeks in a show of support.

So her business life will take a bit of a vacation.  Then she'll get some backing - start selling items online... maybe do her own subscription online show.  Once she proves the numbers are there, she be back.

And probably with a better deal than before.


Yet Alex Baldwin is still working.  And how many embarrassing or degrading things has he blurted out over the last few years?


Or bill Maher... calling women ..nts on the air.  Oh, but he's a humorist - so that doesn't count...


Or any rap star...


What are the rules now?

Jul 3, 2013 1:33PM
The leech is suing for money Oh1Oooo! I used the L word.
Jul 3, 2013 1:26PM

Me, I think destroying her over a word is silly.  She apologized.  I kinda doubt a single black's life was lost.


Although I use it because it is the current politically correct term...I dislike the term "black", it has too many references to negatives like evil and such and seems there are more brown blacks than black blacks anyway..  "White" doesn't fit either, about the only white whites are albinos.   Personally I see nothing wrong with negro.  Who proposed "black" as the official term?

Jul 3, 2013 1:31PM

wonder how that women who is suing ref "abuse of power" feels when so many people lost and will lost their jobs

because of this lawsuit....

Jul 3, 2013 2:03PM
I think the news media is beating this subject to death. Lets move on please.
Jul 3, 2013 1:42PM
Really!?  This is your top news?  The media just loves it when some white celebrity does something to allow our "journalists" to plaster the word racist all over them.  I can't believe how long this has been national news!  The main-stream goes above and beyond when it come to fanning the flames of racism and political correctness.  Our "journalists" are bent on keeping racial tension in this country.That fact is, racism seems to have retreated to journalists and minorities who use their race as a political weapon.  If today's journalist wants to write something about racism, perhaps they should write about the racist state of their own profession.
Jul 3, 2013 2:10PM
No, it is about the millions of dollars she can extort from Paula, in addition to the money Paula  is currently losing now that she is accusing her of this.
Jul 3, 2013 1:38PM
Just saw comment on ghetto language they sure don't mind using M F'er every other word in conversation. This was brought up at my work place the union which I don't belong say's you can say nothing that's cultural? Head dress and war paint clothing type dialectic in native language that's cultural. 
Jul 3, 2013 1:58PM
It seems that most of you commenting did not read the article.  It's not just about the N word.  According to another article I read, and as alluded to in this article, she and her brother are allegedly the kind of employers that most of you supporting her would not tolerate.  The media focused on the use of the N word because it knew the controversy it would stir up and you all played along just as intended.  Now the key word is allegedly.  We'll have to wait to see the actual facts as the case plays out.  Like many of you, I always thought Paula was a sweet lady whose only sin was using far too much butter in her recipes.  But don't forget that she's an actress - that's just as much a part of her job as cooking is.  That's why they have camera challenges on "The Next Food Network Star."  Just because she plays a sweet lady on tv doesn't necessarily mean she is one in real life.  Again, we have to wait for the facts, but get off the media cirucs bandwagon and look at what the real issues are.
Jul 3, 2013 2:36PM
So even with this article above pointing out that the charges are not necessarily about the N-word, we still have a whole string of idiots that refuse to look at the bigger, main issues in this case. READ THE LAWSUIT AND DEPOSITIONS. They're available online everywhere.
Jul 3, 2013 2:01PM

Midgie553 is correct. This is about a hostile work environment and the laws are very clear. If this is her deposition:

"Deen's business losses came after she that she used the N-word, said it was fine that her brother showed pornography to employees at work and that she taught her children it was OK to use the racial slur in a joke."

The key here is showing porno to employees. I work for a major corporation and we have meetings twice a year about harassment and the consequences are your termination. If Paula Deen did nothing as an owner to stop this, then she will be paying out some money. Not enough to harm her personally since I'm sure she is very wealthy.

As Midgie said, Innocent until proven guilty, it will all come out!

Jul 3, 2013 1:46PM

IT IS NOT ABOUT THE "N" WORD.  Go read the deposition.  IF, and this is a BIG IF, the accusations are true that are listed in this deposition, Paula and her brother and his cohorts should be sued.  I'm not saying that I believe the lawsuit is true, I'm just saying that you guys are ranting about all the wrong things.  This lawsuit is about abuse in the workplace.  Whether it is true or not, we'll see.  It seems to be a matter of he said/she said.  I hope it's not true.  Either way, I still support Paula and she should get some sort of punishment if this is true.  I do think that all of her monetary losses before the suit has been settled in court is a slap in the face to our justice system.  This really sucks, she has not been proven to have done the things Ms. Jackson is accusing her of doing. 

Jul 3, 2013 1:23PM
Her ratings were down, there was the whole bad PR brouhaha over her promoting unhealthy food despite having diabetes.  Paula Deen had been making The Food Network look bad for the last several years.  I'm sure TFN wanted to dump her for the last 2-3 years but her contract would have made it too costly.  Then the whole controversy with the N-word surfaced and TFN finally had the justification to dump her.  The racial element is a red herring...this was a business decision by TFN and nothing more.
Jul 3, 2013 2:19PM

Have any of you commenters actually READ Ms. Jackson's lawsuit?  It's not simply about Paula's use of the 'N' word - it's about her failure to address MANY issues (i.e. sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile working environment, etc).


If, as Paula claims, she'd said the 'N' word 30 years ago, then she should be forgiven -- PROVIDED that her attitude/mores have since evolved.  However, according to the lawsuit, Paula was doing & saying things as late as 2010 (which CLEARLY demonstrates that she's not as LOVING as she claims).


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