Judge throws out racism allegations in Paula Deen lawsuit

Updated
Paula Deen cheers for her husband Michael Groover during the semi-finals of the 'Papa' Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida, July 21, 2012.
Paula Deen cheers for her husband Michael Groover during the semi-finals of the 'Papa' Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida, July 21, 2012.
Andy Newman/Florida Keys News/EPA

The race discrimination allegations in a lawsuit against celebrity chef Paula Deen were dismissed on Monday when a federal judge ruled there was no basis for the racism charges against her.

According to the judge’s ruling, the former employee and plaintiff in the case, Lisa Jackson, cannot be a victim of the racial discrimination she claimed targeted African-American workers, because Jackson herself is white.

“At best, plaintiff is an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination,” U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. wrote in his ruling.

Other allegations in the lawsuit, including sexual harassment and abusive treatment, are still under review.

After the ruling was announced, Deen said she was both pleased and hopeful.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling today that Lisa Jackson’s claims of race discrimination have been dismissed,” her spokesperson Elana Weiss Rose said in a statement. “As Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone.”

But while the lawsuit has been dismissed, the damage to Deen’s career may be permanent, as former sponsors and partners don’t seem to be clamoring to get back into business with the disgraced celebrity chef.

From Sears to Caesars, companies reached out to by NBC News clearly stated Tuesday that their relationship with Deen wouldn’t be rekindled on account of the dismissal.

“After careful consideration of all available information, we have made the decision to phase out all products tied to the brand,” Sears said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate the situation. Our members’ needs will be given first priority as we work to continue to provide quality cookware in our stores and online.”

“The racial-discrimination lawsuit had no influence on the mutual decision by Paula and Caesars to part ways, nor would the dismissal of that suit alter our decision to move in a different direction with our restaurant offerings,” Gary Thompson, Director at Caesars Entertainment said.

The Food Network might have given the coldest shoulder, saying simply “No comment.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said the lawsuit against Paula Deen was dismissed. Only the race-based claims in this lawsuit were dismissed. Other allegations are still under consideration.

Judge throws out racism allegations in Paula Deen lawsuit

Updated