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

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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
Replies (11-20):
samurai_chica
by Bronze Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:48 PM
1 mom liked this

where are the people who were actually discriminated against?

ReginaStar
by Gold Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 11:58 PM
1 mom liked this

You don't have to be a minority to be offended by racism against minorities. They subjected her to their racist mindset in a business. She has every right to sue them. 





 Jaliyah  My video here

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jul. 3, 2013 at 12:06 AM

What's whether or not you're a minority got to do with whether or not you were discriminated against on the basis of your skin colour?

juju40
by Bronze Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 12:17 AM
4 moms liked this

she's been criticized for using the N word like 20 years ago...yet Lady GAGA changes the words to the National Anthem and she's praised a hero....and LIL Wayne stomps on our flag and nobody says anything...something wrong here

glitterteaz
by Ruby Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 12:25 AM

I think this whole thing is blown WAY out of proportion! I do not think a white/colored person should be able to sue another person of the same color skin on racism. That would be ridiculous.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 12:36 AM
1 mom liked this

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?

No, because she cannot show that she, herself, was harmed.

meriana
by Platinum Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM
1 mom liked this

I printed out the suit as it was linked in another thread so I could read it when I had time. There are a couple things that I wonder about but then I'm not a lawyer so maybe I'm picking at inconsequential things. First I have to wonder why, if things were as bad as claimed, she stayed for 5 years during which time she never spoke to a lawyer or attempted to file a lawsuit. It can be said that she needed the job but on the other hand, fileing a suit at some point during those 5 years would possibly have gotten her just as much as it possibly will now plus fileing a suit while employed there rather than nearly 3 years after SHE ended her employment (Why didn't she file the suit immediatly after leaving her job?) there would have added weight to her complaint.

On page 7, she says that she asked if she was qualified to fill a position where she would manage both restaurants and was told yes but that the general manager and Deens sons would never allow a woman to tell them what they need to do. Yet the position of COO and Director of Operations (management of the general managers) was a woman, Theresa Fueger. In that position, wouldn't this woman be telling them what they needed to do?

On page 11, she says that when the position of Kitchen Manger/Chef was offered to someone, she offered to take the position under the terms offered the other person and was refused. But then on page 23, with no indication anywhere that she was given the position at any time, she says she held the position of Chef, Kitchen Manager and General Manager as well as performed the duties of administrative staff support. If she was working as Chef, how did she have time for all the other duties she claims she also performed? And why does she say on one page that she was not given the position, then later claims she had those duties?

I'm certainly in no way qualified to say anything about legalities (or running a restaurant) in things like this, but just reading the complaint, something seems fishy. BTW, I don't watch Paula Deens shows, not that I don't like her, I just have no real interest or feelings one way or the other about her or her shows.

autodidact
by Platinum Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:32 AM

how exactly does the California constitution come into play here?

autodidact
by Platinum Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:33 AM


how do you feel about the pledge being fucked with?

Quoting juju40:

she's been criticized for using the N word like 20 years ago...yet Lady GAGA changes the words to the National Anthem and she's praised a hero....and LIL Wayne stomps on our flag and nobody says anything...something wrong here



Autodidact, Unrepentant Heathen

katy_kay08
by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:38 AM

the allegations are that she used it more frequently.  Deen's excuse is that she has used it when she spoke of an incident that happened over 20 years ago, not that it's been 20 years since she said it.  She stated in her deposition she used the word when discussing the incident with her husband.  They married in 2004.  

Quoting juju40:

she's been criticized for using the N word like 20 years ago...yet Lady GAGA changes the words to the National Anthem and she's praised a hero....and LIL Wayne stomps on our flag and nobody says anything...something wrong here


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