SAVANNAH, Ga. » A federal judge signed off today on a deal to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit against celebrity cook Paula Deen.
A civil lawsuit accusing the former Food Network star and her brother of race discrimination and sexual harassment was officially dismissed when U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. in Savannah approved a deal reached by attorneys in the case last week.
The order closed the case "with prejudice," meaning former Deen employee Lisa Jackson can’t sue again over the same issues. Both sides agreed to pay their own court costs and legal fees. No other terms of the deal were disclosed.
Jackson sued last year, saying she worked in an environment rife with racial slurs and sexual innuendo during her five years as manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Deen co-owns the restaurant with her brother, Bubba Hiers, who oversees its daily operations.
The case got little attention outside Savannah until Deen herself was questioned under oath in a May legal deposition. A transcript filed with the court in June showed Deen acknowledged using racial slurs in the past. When an attorney asked if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied: "Yes, of course." She also added, "It’s been a very long time."
Within a few days, the Food Network said it would not renew Deen’s contract and yanked her shows off the air. Smithfield Foods, the pork producer that paid Deen as a celebrity endorser, dropped her soon after. Retailers including Wal-Mart and Target said they would no longer sell Deen’s products, and publisher Ballantine scuttled plans for her upcoming cookbook even though it was the No. 1 seller on Amazon.
A deal to drop the case came less than two weeks after the judge dismissed the race discrimination claims by Jackson, who is white.
Deen said in a statement Friday that she looked forward to putting the case behind her but also planned to take a close look at the working environment at her businesses.