bureaucracybusters

LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEAN: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operate a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Georgia, are being sued by her former employee Lisa Jackson.

A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in November, 2012, claimed that she was subjected to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during her five years’ employment by Deen.

There are many lessons to be learned from the deposition Deen gave in the case in May.  Such as:

Q, Okay.  Have you used it [the “N-word”] since then?

A.  I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.

Stupid Mistake #7:  Having admitted she used it in the past, she compounds her mistake by admitting she had used it since. 

Stupid Mistake #8:   There is an entirely legal way to avoid incriminating oneself–and being prosecuted for perjury.  It’s contained in the words: “Not that I can recall.”

Q. Can you remember the context in which you have used the N word?

A.  No.

Q.  Has it occurred with sufficient frequency that you cannot recall all of the various context in which you’ve used it?

A.  No.

Q.  Well, then tell me the other context in which you’ve used the N word.

A.  I don’t know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.

Q.  Like a joke?

No, probably a conversation between blacks.  I don’t–I don’t know.

Stupid Mistake #9:  The vast majority of restaurant kitchens are staffed by blacks or Hispanics, whose exchanges are often obscene and homophobic.  If Deen had said she had quoted such a conversation between employees, she could have legitimately claimed she did so entirely for the sake of accuracy.  She could have blamed them for using the  N-word, and cast herself strictly in the role of reporter.

Back to the deposition:

Q.  Okay.

A.  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.

Q.  Okay.

A.  As well as I do.

Q.  Are you aware that your brother has admitted to using that word at work?

A.  I don’t know about that.

Stupid Mistake #10:  She had previously admitted to attending her brother’s deposition, where he admitted to, among other offenses, using the N-word in the workplace.  So this is a direct contradiction of her earlier admission.

Q  Okay.  Now, if you had learned of Mr. Hiers engaging in racially or sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace, what, if any, actions would you have taken?

A.  I certainly would have addressed it.

Stupid Mistake #11:  Previously she had been asked: “Did any of the things that your brother admitted to doing, including…using the N word in the workplace, did any of that conduct cause you to have any concerns about him continuing to operate the business?”  And she had replied: “No.”  So this amounts to yet another contradiction.

Q.  Have you ever addressed Mr. Hiers’ racially or sexually inappropriate conduct?

A. No.

Stupid Mistake #12:  She admitted to having learned about her brother’s use of the N-word in the workplace–and then admitted to having never addressed it.

Q.  And you are aware of his admitting to engaging in racially and sexually inappropriate  behavior in the workplace in his deposition in this case?

A.   No.

Stupid Mistake #12:  This directly contradicts her previous admission that she had learned of his engaging in such behavior during his deposition.

Q.  Are you aware of Mr. Hiers admitting that he engaged in racially and sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace?

A.  I guess.

Q.  Okay.

A.  If I was sitting here I would have heard it.

Stupid Mistake #13:  She admits once again to having been apprised of her brother’s offensive behavior.

Q.  Okay.  Well, have you done anything about what you heard him admit to doing?

A.  My brother and I have had conversations.  My brother is not a bad person.  Do humans behave inappropriately?  At times, yes.  I don’t know one person that has not.  My brother is a good man.  Have we told jokes?  have we said things that we should not have said, that–yes, we all have.  We all have done that, every one of us.

Stupid Mistake #14:  She admits to having talked with her brother about his offensive behavior–but she did not say she did anything to stop it or punish him for it.

Q.  You said you have had such conversations with [your brother]. When did you do so?

A.  When Karl told me he was stealing, I addressed that with Bubba.

Q.  And as a result of Mr. Hiers stealing, he received a pay increase and the money he had taken was recharacterized as wages, is that correct?

A.  I don’t know how it was settled.  I know that Karl was paying Lisa Jackson more than my brother was being paid, so if there was a salary increase, it would have been long overdue.

Stupid Mistake #15:  She admits that even though she learned that one of her employees was stealing from her, she had nevertheless retained him.

  1. Stupid mistake #9 indicates a grave deficiency in the author’s actual experiences.

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