The lawsuit was filed in March 2011 by the former general manager at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a Savannah, Georgia restaurant that Deen co-owns with her brother, Bubba Hier.
The employee, Lisa T. Jackson, claims that she and her employees were subjected to a hostile work environment that included sexual harassment, “the most vulgar and obscene racial comments,” and discriminatory treatment of African-American employees.
According to the complaint, “Paula Deen placed Ms. Jackson in charge of food and serving arrangements for the wedding of her brother Bubba Hiers in February 2007. When Ms. Jackson asked Ms. Deen what look the wedding should have, Ms. Deen replied, ‘I want a true southern plantation-style wedding.’ Asked by Ms. Jackson what type of uniforms she preferred servers to wear, Paula Deen stated, ‘Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.’ Paula Deen laughed and said ‘Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.'”
Jackson worked at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House for five years until she quit because “she could no longer bear the sexual harassment, racial harassment, and abusive treatment.” Jackson claims that the employees lived in fear of Bubba Hiers” and that Hiers subjected her to “violent behavior” and “assault and battery.”
Jackson claims that she was subjected “to sexually harassing conduct by Bubba Hiers every single day Ms. Jackson came to work for over five (5) years. In addition to inescapable pornography he brought to the workplace, Bubba Hiers’ harassing and abusive comments were often loud and without apparent concern for customers, vendors, staff or anyone else near him.”
Jackson claims that she and her employees were forced to work in a racially hostile environment that included the following alleged incidents of harassment and discrimination:
“Ms. Jackson was meeting with a vendor in her office at Uncle Bubba’s restaurant when Bubba Hiers entered the office and slammed the door behind him, stating ‘I wish I could put all those niggers [in the kitchen] on a boat to Africa.'”
“In Ms. Jackson’s presence, Bubba Hiers said to his African-American security guard and driver, ‘don’t you wish you could rub all the black off you and be like me?’ The security guard responded, ‘I’m fine the way I am,’ whereupon Mr. Hiers replied that ‘you just look dirty, I bet you wish you could.'”
African-American employees are “required to use the back entrance for all purposes, including picking up their checks. They were prohibited from using the front entrance.” Black employees are also allegedly “required to use one restroom that is in the back of the restaurant and is not the customer restroom. White staff was allowed to use the customer bathroom.”
Karl Schumacher, an executive in charge of compensation for the restaurant, allegedly made inappropriate and offensive comments, such as “women are stupid because they think they can work and have babies and get everything done.”
According to the complaint, Schumacher “on multiple occasions, told jokes or ridiculed the President of the United States, using the word ‘nigger.'”
Jackson claims that Schumacher took away a bonus payment that she had received just after she got a divorce. According to the complaint, “This occurred in the context of numerous remarks by Mr. Schumacher regarding his religious views of marriage and the sin of divorce.”
[Image: Jennifer Conley]