Paula Deen’s Southern cooking empire may be in serious jeopardy, but her legal woes at least are behind her.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. approved a deal to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by former employee Lisa Jackson accusing the celebrity chef and her brother, Bubba Hiers, of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
The settlement was reached “without any award of costs or fees to any party,” according to a document filed in the U.S. District Court in Savannah, Ga.
It’s the latest wrinkle in a saga that began in May, when Deen admitted under oath in a deposition to having used the N-word in the past. After a report in the National Enquirer and some botched efforts at damage control by Deen, the story erupted, sending business partners such as the Food Network and Smithfield Foods fleeing for the hills.
And the plot continues to thicken: On Friday, after the parties reached an agreement but before it had been approved by Judge Moore, Jackson released a statement that sounded very much like an about-face.
“The Paula Deen I have known for more than 8 years, is a woman of compassion and kindness and will never tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind toward anyone,” she said.
In a statement of her own, Deen also struck a diplomatic tone: “Lisa Jackson worked at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House for more than 5 years and we appreciate her service. Moving forward my team and I are working to review the workplace environment issues that were raised in this matter and to retool all of my businesses operations. I look forward to getting back to doing what I love.”