Trials & Litigation

Judge in Paula Deen case had refused to stay deposition in which she made N-word admission

The federal judge in the Paula Deen case had refused to stay the deposition that got the celebrity chef fired from the Food Network.

Deen had admitted in the May deposition that “of course” she had used the N-word, but it was a long time ago. Lawyers for Deen and the plaintiff had sought to delay discovery pending a ruling on a motion to dismiss the sexual harassment and racial bias suit, according to the Daily Report. But Senior U.S. District Judge William Moore Jr. refused a stay in January without explanation, just three days after the motion was filed, the story says.

On Monday, Moore dismissed the racial bias claim, saying the white plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, is no more than “an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination.” Jackson was a former manager at a Georgia restaurant owned by Paula Deen and her brother, who are both defendants in the suit. Jackson had alleged Deen’s brother, Bubba Hiers, had made racial jokes and barred black workers from using the restaurant’s front entrance and customer restrooms.

Jackson had claimed she was affected by racial bias because it deprived her of harmonious working relationships with African-Americans whom she supervised and denied her the right to be free of racial harassment. But Moore said allowing such a claim “would serve to conscript federal courts as human resource departments that are responsible for imposing and monitoring a federally created standard for harmony in the workplace.”

Discrimination lawyers told the Daily Report that, in their experience, judges usually grant motions to stay discovery pending a ruling on dismissal motions. Some judges refuse, however, because they want the case to be ready for trial if it is allowed to proceed.

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