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Paula Deen is in hot water! The Food Network star and her brother Bubba Hiers, who co-owns a Savannah restaurant with Deen, are being sued by a former employee of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the lawsuit filed Monday alleges that former employee Lisa Jackson was the victim of sexual harassment and that Deen repeatedly made racist remarks in her presence. Jackson, the former general manager of Deen and Hiers' seafood place, says the harassment started shortly after she was promoted from hostess to manager in 2005.
"Now I'm going to do something I've never done. I'm going to put a woman in a man's job," Deen allegedly told Jackson.
Jackson alleges that the harassment continued for more than five years until she quit in 2010. She claims she finally quit under the advisement of her physician because of panic attacks and other stress-related health conditions due to the job.
"Every single day she came to the work place, she encountered this harassment," her lawyer told the newspaper.
The alleged harassment includes claims that Hiers made sexual comments to Jackson, distributed inappropriate photos (of two women having sex) to staff and even watched pornography in a small office he shared with Jackson. She also insists she wasn't able to complain about the workplace conditions, because Deen had no HR manager at the time, despite having more than 500 employees.
What's even more potentially damaging for Deen is that Jackson, who is white, says Deen and her brother are overtly racist and routinely made racist comments to her. While planning the catering for Hiers' wedding in 2007, Jackson claims Deen told her the following about the staff:
"Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n***ers 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… 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."
Deen's camp has yet to respond to these claims.