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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 (21-30):
meriana
by Platinum Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Oh, and how is it she can remember, apparently word for word, things that were said over a period of years. Did she record everything, write it all down immediatly or what cause most people can remember something said at one time or another but won't remember word for word EVERY incident that takes place as this woman is apparently able to do.

adeber1
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM
What do changing the words to the National Anthem and stomping on the flag have to do with Paula Deen? Self-expression maybe, but that's about it!





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


JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM
2 moms liked this

So let me guess this is Obama's fault along with everything else?  It rains when you planed to go to the park and that is also Obama's fault. 

Great job bringing Obama into a topic that has nothing to do with him. 


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.



adeber1
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:06 PM
I have to admit that I just always assumed Deen would have used the word at some point given her age and where she grew up. I don't have a problem with something she said 20 years ago. My issue is whether or not she's used it recently and whether or not a pattern of racist behavior exists.
LuJoMo
by New Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM

 

Because Prop 8 was thrown out of the Supreme Court WITHOUT a decision because the people suing didn't have a legal right to do so. SInce they were not affected by the lower court ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, they can't bring a case to the supreme court. Therefore, the lower court ruling stands and Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

Deen's lawyer is saying a white employee, like the plaintiff in Prop 8 at the Supreme Court, doesn't have a right to bring a racially based law suit.

Quoting autodidact:

how exactly does the California constitution come into play here?


 

adeber1
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM
1 mom liked this
Well yeah...he's the anti-Christ don't ya know ;)

In fact, a really big limb fell on my front lawn yesterday and I know Obama was behind it.

Also, that run in my stockings..yep, Obama! It's all Obama!


Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

So let me guess this is Obama's fault along with everything else?  It rains when you planed to go to the park and that is also Obama's fault. 

Great job bringing Obama into a topic that has nothing to do with him. 



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.





adeber1
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:13 PM
Specious argument at best and one that probably won't work.


Quoting LuJoMo:

 


Because Prop 8 was thrown out of the Supreme Court WITHOUT a decision because the people suing didn't have a legal right to do so. SInce they were not affected by the lower court ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, they can't bring a case to the supreme court. Therefore, the lower court ruling stands and Prop 8 is unconstitutional.


Deen's lawyer is saying a white employee, like the plaintiff in Prop 8 at the Supreme Court, doesn't have a right to bring a racially based law suit.


Quoting autodidact:


how exactly does the California constitution come into play here?




 


0Kit0
by Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:15 PM
You really can. She needs a new lawyer.
meriana
by Platinum Member on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:31 PM
1 mom liked this

 


Quoting samurai_chica:

where are the people who were actually discriminated against?

That's my question also and why aren't they part of the lawsuit? I also wonder, if she should win, how much of what she receives is she going to share with them? 

 

tanyainmizzou
by on Jul. 3, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Not a single dime.


This is a money grab from a whiny woman and she is going to win.

I don't buy for one moment she suffered 5 years of abuse, considering the time frame she worked there, but never left.  She could have easily gotten another job and didn't.


Quoting meriana:



Quoting samurai_chica:

where are the people who were actually discriminated against?

That's my question also and why aren't they part of the lawsuit? I also wonder, if she should win, how much of what she receives is she going to share with them? 




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