It’s more than just a food fight: Famed comfort food chef Paula Deen and her brother are being sued for sexual harassment by a former restaurant general manager.
After watching a few episodes of Paula’s Home Cooking, you’d guess that Paula Deen would make for a great boss who fills her restaurant kitchen with loads of butter and lots of loud laughter all the time.
However, that’s not the case — that’s not even close. A former general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia, which is owned by Paula Deen, has filed a lawsuit against the Food Network chef and her brother, Bubba Hiers.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Lisa Jackson said she was hired to work as a hostess in February 2005 and was promoted to general manager that August. She was then given six months to turn a failing restaurant around.
“Now I’m going to do something I’ve never done. I’m going to put a woman in a man’s job,” Paula Deen allegedly told Jackson.
The harassment continued for five years until Jackson quit in August 2010, said her attorney, Wesley Woolf.
“Every single day she came to the work place, she encountered this harassment,” Woolf said.
The lawsuit also contends that Jackson was not paid as much as her male counterparts and was asked by Hiers to bring in pictures of herself when she was younger. Hiers also frequently made sexually-based comments to Jackson, targeting her with unwanted advances and watching pornography in the small office the two shared. He also distributed pictures of two women having sex at an office meeting and complained about heavier staff members. Jackson said Hiers grabbed her face during an event at the restaurant and declared “I love you,” then later screamed at her and spit in her face.
The suit also alleges that Jackson’s sibling supervisors made racially derogatory comments about the restaurant’s African American workers and required them to use a separate restroom from Caucasian employees like Jackson.
Jackson said she routinely suffered from panic attacks, and left her job after her doctor suggested doing so to improve her health. She said in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, that she “continues to endure immense pain and has suffered greatly at the hands of Defendants’ outrageous and intolerable conduct.”