Television's Paula Dean is best known by New Yorkers for her love of butter and culinary prowess. But this week, the 65 year-old chef may be forced to take her work from the kitchen to the courts.
Dean and her brother, Earl W. "Bubba" Hiers, are being sued by a former general manager at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House - a restaurant that the pair co-owns. The lawsuit involves claims of sexual harassment and racism.
The woman who initiated the suit indicated that she was subjected to a hostile work environment that included unwanted sexual advances by Hiers and inappropriate sexual remarks. In one instance, the lawsuit states, Hiers distributed pornographic images of two women having sex at an office meeting.
The lawsuit also alleges that Hiers visited porn sites on a shared computer, and complained about the appearance of heavier staff members. Both siblings are accused of making racist comments and forcing black staff members to use a back entrance and separate restroom.
According to several media reports, the female claimant is white. If this is indeed the case, she will not be able to recover money for racial slurs or other occurrences of racial discrimination. However, such actions may help show a pattern of illegal and discriminatory behavior.
It is important to remember that everyone has the right to a workplace that is free from harassment and that promotes healthy, respectful behavior. Sexual harassment and discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated, and can be a detriment to one's personal health and well being.
Source: Newsday, "Woman claims harassment at Paula Deen restaurant," March 6, 2012