Some incriminating quotes from Food Network star Paula Deen’s lawsuit deposition came out yesterday.
They were just the tip of the iceberg.
Deen is currently being sued by the former general manager of her Savannah, Ga. restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. She owns the establishment with her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers.
The manager, Lisa T. Jackson, has accused Deen of racial discrimination and Hiers of sexual harassment, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The full deposition is now out. It’s a pretty long read at 149 pages, so here are some of the highlights (lowlights):
Porn in public
The transcript mentions employee complaints about Hiers looking at pornography at the restaurant and forcing other employees to look at it as well. In response to questions about this, Deen said:
I know all men in my family at one time or another, they’ll tell each other, ‘look what so and so sent me on my phone,’ you know. It’s just men being men.
Later on in the deposition in response to questions about whether or not she’d have a problem with Hiers looking at porn at work, she said:
If somebody sent [Hiers] something and he pulled it up and looked at it, no, I would not persecute him for that. … Bubba, I don’t think, would ever do that if he thought there was somebody in the room that he — it would insult. … Bubba would never force somebody to read the crap that comes up on that computer.
Deen was also asked about an alleged decision to only hire white people to work in the front of the restaurant:
Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the colour of your skin is or what is between your legs, it’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us.
In response to a question about when it’s acceptable to use the N-word, Deen said:
We hear a lot of things in the kitchen. Things that they — that black people will say to each other. If we are relaying something that was said, a problem that we’re discussing, that’s not said in a mean way.
Deen’s description of a “southern plantation wedding” she wanted for Hiers made headlines. She was reportedly inspired by a restaurant with nicely dressed, middle-aged black waiters. When asked by the questioner in the deposition whether the race of the waiters mattered, Deen said, “Well, that’s what made it.” She continued:
That’s what made it so impressive. These were professional. I’m not talking about somebody that’s been a waiter for two week. I’m talking about these were professional middle-aged men, that probably made a very, very good living at this restaurant. They were trained. The — it — it was the whole picture, the setting of the restaurant, the servers, their professionalism.
Deen also said that the restaurant that inspired this idea was located in the south and reminded her of the Civil War era. When the questioner assumed Deen meant it reminded her of “an era when there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people,” she said “Well, it was not only black men, it was black women.”
When asked if it’s possible that Deen used the N-word when describing this wedding plan to someone, she said:
No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.
Uncle Bubba’s isn’t the only Paula Deen-owned restaurant whose employees have complained of racial harassment. In 2010, Dustin Walls, the general manager of The Lady & Sons restaurant, allegedly threatened to fire all the “monkeys” working in the kitchen. In response to questions about this incident, Deen said:
I understand the pressure that goes along with the restaurant business. When that dinner bell rings at 11:00, it’s like you and your team go to war. You’re fighting a war to get everybody fed, every customer happy, and I know that in the heat of the moment you can say things that would ordinarily not be said. The restaurant business is just so stressful, so stressful.
We’ve embedded the full deposition (obtained by Talking Points Memo) below.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.