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A white woman can't sue for racial discrimination, Deen's lawyer argues

Posted by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:08 PM
  • 56 Replies

Paula Deen invokes same-sex marriage ruling in lawsuit defense

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 6:48 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013

Deen uses Prop 8 ruling in suit defense
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Law professor says the Prop 8 ruling is not relevant to the Deen case
  • A white woman can't sue for racial discrimination, Deen's lawyer argues
  • Deen's motion cites last week's Supreme Court ruling on California's Prop 8
  • The high court ruled private citizens had "no standing" to appeal same-sex ruling

(CNN) -- Celebrity chef Paula Deen hopes the Supreme Court's ruling allowing same-sex marriage to be legal in California will help in her defense against a racial discrimination lawsuit.

The woman alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment while working as an assistant manager at Deen's restaurants is white and therefore doesn't have the "standing," or legal right, to claim racial discrimination, according to a motion filed Monday by Deen's lawyer.

The high court rejected an appeal of California's Proposition 8 law last week on the grounds that the private parties behind the appeal did not have standing to defend the ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.

Even if the federal judge in Savannah, Georgia, accepts the argument and tosses the lawsuit, much damage has already been done to Deen's career and businesses by the public fallout from a deposition in which she acknowledged using the "N-word."

She said she had probably used the racial slur when talking to her husband about "when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head" -- an incident that took place 30 years ago.

Asked if she had used it since then, she said, "I'm sure I have, but it's been a very long time." She noted that circumstances have changed "since the '60s in the South."

Many of Deen's lucrative business relationships have crumbled in the wake of media coverage of the lawsuit. She has lost at least nine endorsements along with her Food Network cooking show, and publication of her eagerly anticipated cookbook has been canceled.

Deen attorney William Franklin's motion, filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in Savannah, cited the June 26 Supreme Court decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the California case.

"Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts made this observation: Article III of the Constitution confines the judicial power of federal courts to deciding actual 'Cases' or 'Controversies,'" the motion said. "One essential aspect of this requirement is that any person invoking the power of a federal court must demonstrate standing to do so. This requires the litigant to prove that he has suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct, and is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told CNN Tuesday the contention that the Prop 8 ruling is relevant to the Deen case won't hold water.

The concept of standing is hardly new, and the Supreme Court bringing it into the spotlight in Hollingsworth v. Perry doesn't not advance Deen's motion to dismiss the case, Turley said.

Deen's accuser: 'This has never been about the N-word'

Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff in the suit against Deen is white, has no standing because she couldn't have suffered "a personal and tangible harm" from hearing the "N-word" on the job, the Franklin's , motion says.

In the Prop 8 case, state officials refused to pursue an appeal when a federal judge struck down the same-sex marriage ban. Private citizens picked it up, ultimately to be told by the high court last week that they had no standing to do so.

Jackson is a former manager at Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia. She is suing Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, alleging they committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Deen's Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House eateries in Savannah.

She gave a statement to CNN's Don Lemon through her lawyer, Matthew Billips, on Monday.

"This lawsuit has never been about the N-word," she said. "It is to address Ms. Deen's patterns of disrespect and degradation of people that she deems to be inferior. 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. 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."

Deen's lawyer has called the allegations false, and Deen has said she does not tolerate prejudice.

Deen made an emotional appearance on NBC's "Today Show" last week in which she called the accusations "horrible, horrible lies."

"I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God's creatures, was created equal," she said. "... I believe that everyone ought to be treated equal."

Deen was raised to never be unkind to anyone, she said.


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So what do you say?  Should a non minority be able sue for a hostile work environment due to the treatment of mintories in said work place even if the individual wasn't subjected directly to the discrimination and bias?  

by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:08 PM
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Replies (1-10):
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:15 PM
7 moms liked this

she is suing on the premises of a hostile work environment....racial discrimination being part of that inviroment.  Just because she isnt the target of discrimination she is subjected to the discrimination by proximinity which in turn made her enviroment hostile.

I liken it to noise pollution.  I can complain about it even though I am not targeted by it.  I can ask that it stop.

momtimesx4
by Gold Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:21 PM

"What originally started all of this drama was when a former employee of Paula Deen’s brother’s restaurant claimed the southern chef was a racist and thereby tried to sue her. The accuser is Caucasian however she claimed her husband’s niece who was half-Black made her an African American Adjacent. That’s why it was such a personal matter to her. Yet here’s the thing, the niece is half-Hispanic not black. So what’s that about the adjacent crap, I can’t remember."


Link to info


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:51 PM
3 moms liked this

A hostile work environment can include many different things, including but not limited to, the way minorities workers are treated.

Is she expected to ignore what goes on simply because she is white?


rfurlongg
by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:57 PM
1 mom liked this
Good point.

Quoting FromAtoZ:

A hostile work environment can include many different things, including but not limited to, the way minorities workers are treated.

Is she expected to ignore what goes on simply because she is white?


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
grandmab125
by Gold Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:05 PM
1 mom liked this

 The court should throw the suit against Deen out.  The harpy went after Deen because she's got deeper pockets than her brother.  It's the brother she worked for directly, not Deen.

Hell, isnt Obama always saying "I know nothing, I saw nothing, I heard nothing".  He's never responsible for what those under him do, so why should Deen be responsible?

This would equate to woman #1 suing her boss's boss because her boss sexually harassed woman #2.  It's woman #2's place to sue, not woman #1.

colins_mom
by Silver Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:05 PM
when I brought up hostile work environment to my hr I was told it had to be hostile towards me, so if I worked with a minority that was being discriminated against I couldn't say it was hostile. I think this employee juat wants a get rich quick deal.
katy_kay08
by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:07 PM
8 moms liked this

I don't think it's possible for you to go an entire day without making a post about Obama.  You are a bit obsessed.  

Quoting grandmab125:

 The court should throw the suit against Deen out.  The harpy went after Deen because she's got deeper pockets than her brother.  It's the brother she worked for directly, not Deen.

Hell, isnt Obama always saying "I know nothing, I saw nothing, I heard nothing".  He's never responsible for what those under him do, so why should Deen be responsible?

This would equate to woman #1 suing her boss's boss because her boss sexually harassed woman #2.  It's woman #2's place to sue, not woman #1.


grandmab125
by Gold Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:10 PM

 Awwwww, too bad.

Quoting katy_kay08:

I don't think it's possible for you to go an entire day without making a post about Obama.  You are a bit obsessed.  

Quoting grandmab125:

 The court should throw the suit against Deen out.  The harpy went after Deen because she's got deeper pockets than her brother.  It's the brother she worked for directly, not Deen.

Hell, isnt Obama always saying "I know nothing, I saw nothing, I heard nothing".  He's never responsible for what those under him do, so why should Deen be responsible?

This would equate to woman #1 suing her boss's boss because her boss sexually harassed woman #2.  It's woman #2's place to sue, not woman #1.


 

grandma B

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:26 PM
1 mom liked this
Exactly

I had to report a former boss for a hostile work environment

Sexual harassment and racial discrimination were factors ...and I let him know I reported him.

My being white doesn't mean I am not offended by racial discrimintion against other races or part of that hostile work environment created by the racial discrimination


Quoting FromAtoZ:

A hostile work environment can include many different things, including but not limited to, the way minorities workers are treated.

Is she expected to ignore what goes on simply because she is white?


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:38 PM

The defense using this angle does not look well on their client.

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