TV cooking show host Paula Deen is in a lot of hot water after admitting to using the 'N' word and wanting to plan a "true Southern plantation-style wedding" with an all-black wait staff.
A former manager at Deen's Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House eateries is suing Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, for sexual and racial harassment.
Lisa Jackson alleges that she was subjected to racist language, violence and discrimination that ended her five-year employment at the Savannah, Ga., restaurant.
When asked by Jackson's lawyer if she had ever used the racial slur, Deen replied, "Yes, of course."
The lawyer asked Deen to explain when she had used the slur: "Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head," she replied. "I didn’t feel real favorable towards him."
Asked if there were any other times she used the term, Deen said, "I'm sure I have, but it’s been a very long time."
The lawyer then asked if Deen had used the term in any jokes.
"No," Deen replied, "probably a conversation between blacks. I don't—I don't know. But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."
Deen's lawyer called the allegations in the lawsuit false and said that Deen is looking forward to her day in court.
"Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable," Bill Franklin said.
Jackson also alleges that Deen approached her about planning "a true Southern plantation-style wedding" for her brother Bubba.
Jackson was placed in charge of food and serving arrangements and she told her lawyer that she asked Deen what she wanted the reception to look like. According to Jackson's deposition, Deen replied:
"Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n—–s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around." Paula Deen laughed and said "Now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that."
Deen denied using the 'N' word to describe the wait staff but conceded that the servers she wanted to represent "were slaves".
"I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I’m wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid somebody would misinterpret."
"That restaurant represented a certain era in America," Deen continued. The servers in that era "were slaves," she admitted. "But I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look."
"Bubba and I, neither one of us care what the color of your skin is," Deen said in her deposition. "It's what's in your heart and in your head that matters to us."
A spokesperson for the Food Network has also issued a statement about the allegations.
"Food Network does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to monitor the situation," the statement read.