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Posts Tagged ‘DEPOSITION’

PAULA DEEN’S REAL LAGACY: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on April 16, 2014 at 12:38 am

In 2012, Celebrity Chef Paula Deen was sued by a former employee for sexual/racial harassment. For Deen, the deposition she filed in May, 2013, proved to be the worst mistake of her life.

Interrogated by Matthew C. Billips, the attorney for the plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, Deen responded as follows:

Q.  Are you aware of [your brother, Earl “Bubba” 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.

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

Earl “Bubba” Hiers

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.

Mistake #14:  She admitted 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.

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

Speaking of her employee, Karl Schumacher, Deen said:

A.  Karl is the most judgmental person I know.  And out of every team member on our team, he is certainly the most prejudice.

Mistake #16:  She admitted that she had retained an employee who was openly prejudiced toward a wide range of people.

MackWorks, a business consulting firm, conducted an investigation of Uncle Bubba’s, which was owned by her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers. A

I didn’t read the report.

Q.  Okay.  And what, if any, investigation have you done to determine if it is your brother who is lying, as opposed to Miss Jackson and Mr. Schumacher and the people at MackWorks?

A.  I know my brother.  I know his character.  If I ask him something, he would not lie to me, nor would I to him.  There was nothing to investigate.

Mistake #18:  After an independent consulting firm gives her a scathing report about her brother’s restaurant, she didn’t read it.  

Mistake #19:  She admitted she didn’t read it.

Mistake #20:  She admitted she took no action to discover the truth for herself: “There was nothing to investigate.”

* * * * *

The media has focused its attention on Deen’s admission to having used the “N-word.”

  But clearly she was running a dysfunctional operation–replete with alcoholism, racial prejudice, sexual harassment and theft.

Much has been made of Deen’s serving as an ambassador of Southern culture and cooking.

But if only some of the accusations made against her hold up, she must also serve as an ambassador of a South decent Americans want to forget–and forever put behind them.

That was definitely an era when blacks knew their place–which was as slaves in the kitchens or fields of the Southern planter class who owned them.

According to Jackson, those are the days Deen would love to return to.

Deen has given lip service to knowing that the days of Southern racism are past.  But according to the complaint filed against her by her former employee, Lisa Jackson, that past remained very much alive:

  • Requiring black employees to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Holding black employees to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Allowing her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, to regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Allowing Hiers to make inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Allowing Hiers to force the plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, to look at pornography with him.
  • Allowing Hiers to often violently shake employees.
  • Allowing Hiersto come to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Enabling Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Holding “racist views herself.”

Many of Deen’s supporters have claimed she is the victim of anti-Southern prejudice. But the truth appears that only in the South could she have run so gigantic and lucrative an empire for so long in such prejucial and dysfunctional fashion.

The wonder is not that the Food Network refused to renew her contract after June, 2013.  The wonder is that she has managed to stay in business this long.

PAULA DEEN’S REAL LAGACY: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on April 15, 2014 at 12:07 am

There are many lessons to be learned from the deposition Paula Deen gave in May, 2012, during a lawsuit filed against her for sexual/racial harassment lawsuit.

Interrogated by Matthew C. Billips, the attorney for the plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, Deen responded as follows:

Q.  Now, does [your brother’s] sense of humor include telling jokes about matters of a sexual nature?

A.  We have all told off-colored jokes.

Q.  Okay.  Does his sense of humor include telling jokes of a racial nature?

A.  I’m sure those kind of jokes have been told.  Every man I’ve ever come in contact with has one.

Mistake #3:  Deen acknowledged that off-color jokes were told in her workplace, and that she was clearly aware of it.

Mistake #4:  Deen made light of the telling of jokes that the vast majority of employers would not tolerate in their workplaces.

Q. Okay.  Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?

A.  No, not racial.

Q.  Okay, have you ever used the N-word yourself?

A.  Yes, of course.

Mistake #5:  She knew that the charge of racial discrimination stood at the very heart of the lawsuit facing her. 

Yet, when asked if she had ever used the “N-word,” she replied, “Yes, of course,” as if this were the most natural thing in the world.

Q.  Okay.  In what context?

A.  Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.

Q. Okay, and what did you say?

A.  Well, I don’t remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple.  I didn’t…feel real favorable towards him.

Q.  Okay.  Well, did you use the N-word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?

A.  Absolutely not.

Q.  Well, then, when did you use it?

A.  Probably in telling my husband.

Mistake #6:  What is discussed between husband and wife is protected legally as marital privilege.  Her attorney should have objected and told her not to answer the question. 

If she had not admitted to using it privately with her husband, she might not have been asked if she had used it since then.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

PAULA DEEN’S REAL LAGACY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on April 14, 2014 at 12:00 am

The purpose of this blog is to highlight the ways public and private bureaucracies actually operate–as opposed to how they usually want others to believe they operate.

Occasionally, a case comes along that is so filled with blatant violations of law and common sense that it offers a road map of what others should do to avoid similar disaster.

Such a case is that of celebrity chef Paula Deen.

On April 3, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House closed without warning.

The Savannah, Georgia, restaurant lay at the center of the infamous Paula Deen lawsuit.

And, in keeping with the mistreatment she had long tolerated against her employees, Deen closed Uncle Bubba’s without a trace of class.

Yes, Paula Deen thought so little of her employees that she didn’t even tell them beforehand.  She let them show up to work, only to find kitchen appliances being removed from the restaurant.

Employees collected their severance checks in the parking lot.

Insead, the restaurant posted the following announcement on its Facebook page:

“Since its opening in 2004, Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House has been a destination for residents and tourists in Savannah, offering the region’s freshest seafood and oysters.

“However, the restaurant’s owner and operator, Bubba Heirs, has made the decision to close the restaurant in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located.

“At this point, no specific plans have been announced and a range of uses are under consideration in order realize the highest and best use for the property.

“The closing is effective today, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Employees will be provided with severance based on position and tenure with the restaurant.

“All effort will be made to find employees comparable employment with other Savannah restaurant organizations.” 

In 2013, Deen became the subject of nationwide controversey when Lisa Jackson, a former employee of Uncle Bubba’s, filed a sexual/racial harassment lawsuit against her.

In a deposition, Deen was asked if she had used the word “nigger” and she replied: “Of course.”

Suddenly, she lost her cooking show on the Food Network.  Several of his business partners–including Sears, JC Penney and Kmart–also gave hr the heave-ho.

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but, by then, the damage was done.

Commentators focused obsessively on Deen’s admission that she used the word “nigger.”  Entirely ignored was the longtime mistreatment she had allowed to be dished out to her employees.

Paula Deen

Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operated a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Georgia, were sued by former employee Lisa Jackson.

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

It was for that reason that she left Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, which was run by Hiers, in August, 2010.

Jackson’s complaint alleged that:

  • Black employees were required to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Black employees were held to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Hiers regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Hiers made inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Hiers forced Jackson to look at pornography with him.
  • Hiers often violently shook employees.
  • Hiers came to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Dean enabled Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Deen “holds racist views herself.”

The allegation that black employees were ordered to use separate bathrooms and entrances harkens back to the ugly days of the pre-civil rights South.

That was an era where most blacks knew their place–or were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

In May, 2013, Deen gave her own deposition in the case.

She denied many of the allegations against Hiers-–but ended up admitting that she was aware of his offensive behaviors:

Q.  Okay.  Are you aware–-you were here during your brother’s deposition, right?

A.  Yes.

Q.  So you are aware of the things that he’s admitted to?

A.  Absolutely.

Q.  Did any of the things that your brother admitted to doing, including reviewing–-reviewing pornography in the workplace, 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?

A.  No.  My brother and I, 25 years ago…each started a business and we each had $200 to start that business. 

My brother built the most successful long-service business in Albany, Georgia, with his $200.  My brother is completely capable unless he’s being sabotaged.

Mistake #1:  Deen acknowledged that, if she hadn’t known about her brother’s behavior prior to his deposition, she was present during this and thus learned about it then.

Mistake #2:  Deen acknowledged that even after she officially became aware of his behavior, she did not feel there was any reason to sever him from the company.

MORE THAN THE “N-WORD”: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on July 5, 2013 at 12:07 am

Deserted by most of her major sponsors and branded as a racist by the media, Paula Deen believes she has found the magic solution to her problems:  Hollingsworth v. Perry.

That’s the Supreme Court case which effectively legalized gay marriage in California.

On July 1, Deen’s lawyers cited Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision in a filing submitted to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Georgia.  To quote Roberts:

“In other words, for a federal court to have authority under the Constitution to settle a dispute, the party before it must seek a remedy for a personal and tangible harm.”

On June 26, the Supreme Court rejected former California State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth’s defense of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.  The reason: The Justices believed that, as a heterosexual, he could not be tangibly harmed by same-sex marriage.

Applying this to the Deen lawsuit: Lisa Jackson can’t sue Deen and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers for racial discrimination because she herself is white–and thus could not have been harmed by racial discrimination, even if this had occurred.

While these legal gymnastics may offer Deen some momentary solace, they come too late to prevent the loss of millions of dollars she has suffered in the mass desertion of her sponsors.

Mega-corporations like the Food Network, Wal-Mart and Smithfield Foods aren’t going to renew their ties to Deen anytime soon–if ever.  And, at this point, “if ever” looks more like “never.”

The scandal ensuing from her admitting to use of the “N-word” in her deposition has already cost her far more than any court judgment could.

Moreover, she desperately needs to put this disaster behind her–and as quickly as possible.

Her appearances on TV and the Internet have been filled with self-pitying tears and pleas for forgiveness.  But  they have most likely reminded viewers of the infamous “I Have Sinned” extravaganza put on by televangelist Jimmy Swaggart in 1988.

Paula Deen apology

Outed with a prostitute, Swaggart gave an alternately fiery and tearful speech to his family, TV congregation and God: “I have sinned against You, my Lord, and I would ask that Your Precious Blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God’s forgetfulness, not to be remembered against me anymore.”

Jimmy Swaggart’s confession

Yes, the U.S. District Court might rule in Deen’s favor that, as a white, Jackson could not have been harmed by racial discrimination.

But Jackson’s lawyers can certainly argue that she was harmed by receiving unequal pay and being exposed to a climate of sexual harassment, obscenity, assault, battery and humiliating behavior.

The longer this lawsuit drags on, the more the public wll be exposed to the truth about Deen’s treatment of her employees.  And the less likely they–and, more importantly, her former sponsors–will be to forgive her.

So no matter how clever she thinks her lawyers are, her best bet would be:

  • Settle the lawsuit–quickly;
  • Drop out of the limelight; and
  • Work quietly to regain the trust of the public and as many of her former sponsors as possible.

The media has focused its attention on Deen’s admission to having used the “N-word.”  But clearly she was running a dysfunctional operation–replete with alcoholism, racial prejudice, violence, sexual harassment and theft.

Deen has claimed she knows that the days of Southern racism are past.  But according to the complaint filed against her by her former General Manager, that past remains very much alive at Deen’s restaurants:

  • Requiring black employees to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Holding black employees to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Allowing her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, to regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Allowing Hiers to make inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Allowing Hiers to force female employees to view pornography with him.
  • Allowing Hiers to often violently shake employees.
  • Allowing Hiers to come to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Enabling Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Holding “racist views herself.”

Many of Deen’s supporters have claimed she is the victim of anti-Southern prejudice.

But the truth appears that Deen is far less victim than victimizer–allowing her brother to subject both his black and female employees to obscene, alcoholic, violent and humiliating behavior.

In her deposition, Deen admitted to being warned by MackWorks, a business consulting firm, that sexual/racial discrimination was rife at her brother’s restaurant.

And how did she respond?

“I didn’t read the report,” admitted Deen. “I know my brother.  I know his character.  If I ask him something, he would not lie to me, nor would I to him.  There was nothing to investigate.”

The wonder is not that the chickens have finally come home to roost for Paula Deen.  The wonder is that it took so long for them to do so.

MORE THAN THE “N-WORD”: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on July 4, 2013 at 1:00 am

The media has focused exclusively on Paula Deen’s use of the so-called “N-word”.  In doing so, it has ignored more important aspects of the lawsuit filed against her.

The plaintiff in the case is Lisa Jackson, former General Manager of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.

Lisa Jackson

At the center of the complaint filed in the case is Earl “Bubba” Hiers, the brother of Paula Deen.

Among the allegations listed in the complaint:

  • Hiers “frequently visits strip clubs and would bring to the workplace numerous stories…regarding the highlights of his visits.”
  • Hiers “commented to…Jackson regarding a female employee who was married to a significantly younger man, ‘Can you imagine that man going to bed with her?'”
  • “The male General Manager of the Lady & Sons Restaurant is paid substantially more” than Jackson was as General Manager at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House–even though both are run by the Paula Dean Family of Companies.
  • In addition, “there are male managers below the General Manager level at Lady & Sons Restaurant that are compensated more than…Jackson and who received compensation in addition to salary, including bonuses and retirement not allowed to…Jackson.”
  • On July 20, 2010, Jackson told Hiers that a white restaurant employee had made “a sexually harassing comment” to a black kitchen staffer.  “Seething with anger and red in the face….Hiers repeatedly screamed at [the witness] asking what he saw….Unsatisfied with [the witness’s] response…Hiers physically and violently shook him and stated, ‘Fuck your civil rights.  You work for me and my sister Paula Deen,’ saying futher: ‘You’re not going to get me sued over some little bitch.’  Mr. Hiers proceeded to physically and violently shake [the employee].”
  • “The staff of Uncle Bubba’s restaurant was in a constant state of fear awaiting Bubba Hiers’ arrival at the restaurant and any required interaction with him.”
  • “The stress of repeatedly taking on the role of anticipating…Hiers’ violence, moderating it to the extent possible, and playing the go-between role with her staff caused…Jackson enormous stress.”
  • This “caused chest pains and…panic attacks that would often begin when…Hiers’ truck pulled into the parking lot or upon appearance of the white cup–the styrofoam cup poured almost full with whiskey at approximately 10 a.m., whereupon…Hiers began his day of drinking and abusive behavior.  When the truck pulled up or the white cup appeared, staff would scatter, leaving…Jackson to manage…Hiers.”
  • “Jackson’s pleas for relief from the harassment to senior management also took the form of requests…for a transfer anywhere in the company–even if it required a cut in pay.  But she was told…that Paula Deen would never let her leave Uncle Bubba’s restaurant.”
  • When Jackson directly asked Deen for a transfer, Deen “told…Jackson she could never leave Uncle Bubba’s restaurant.”
  • “Corporate counsel James P. Gerard would frequently call…Jackson at home in the evenings and on the weekend to discuss and sympathize with the discriminatory conditions and abusive treatment she confronted.”
  • “For over five years, Ms. Jackson made numerous and frequent complaints of racial and sexual harassment and abusive treatment to the highest levels of corporate management and ownership, including:
  • “Defendants Paula Deen and Bubba Hiers; Paula Deen Enterprises Chief Operation Officer and Director of Operations Theresa Fueger; the Certified Public Accountant…Karl Schumacher; and to the attorney for defendants, James P. Gerard.”
  • “The conduct was universally known and tolerated within the ownership and management levels of the corporate enterprise, and by corporate counsel and no remedy was offered.”

Deen hasn’t helped herself with her response to the firestorm of criticism that has descended upon her.

On June 20, the full, unedited transcript of Deen’s deposition was leaked–proving that she did, in fact, admit to using the dreaded “N-word.”

The media chose to focus on this–and completely ignored the multiple instances of sexual/racial harassment, drunkenness and violence.

On June 22, Deen canceled a scheduled appearance on the Today show to discuss the reports. She released a video apology that went viral. This was quickly taken down and replaced with a second version.

Paula Deen apology video

“Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me,” Deen told her viewers. “But it’s what in the heart. What’s in the heart.  And my family and I try to live by that.”

Deen then posted a third video, directly apologizing to Today host Matt Lauer for cancelling her scheduled June 22 interview with him.

On June 26, Deen finally appeared on Today, tearfully offering a response that was half-apology, half-defiance:

“If there’s anyone out there that has never said something that they wished they could take back. If you’re out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please. I want to meet you. I is what I is and I’m not changing.”

But none of these appearances have reclaimed one lost sponsor–nor caused the media to back off.

MORE THAN THE “N-WORD”: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on July 3, 2013 at 12:01 am

The media has focused exclusively on Paula Deen’s use of “nigger.” In doing so, it has completely ignored even more important aspects of the lawsuit filed against her.

Consider the allegations listed in the complaint filed by Lisa Jackson, who spent five years (2005 – 2010) as  General Manager for Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, in Savannah, Georgia.  This is owned by Deen’s brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers.

Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House

According to the complaint, employees at the restaurant were routinely subjected to “violent behavior,” which included “racial harassment, assault, battery and other humiliating conduct.”

Among those violations alleged in the complaint:

  • In Jackson’s presence, Hiers told another employee who had just gotten dentures: “I bet your husband is going to like that.”
  • Hiers told a joke to male and female staffers that described why men should have sex with flat-headed women: Because “you can sit your beer on top of her head while she is giving you a blow-job.”
  • Hiers told Jackson that he would like to replace the staff at Uncle Bubba’s with “Hooter’s Girls.”
  • At a weekly managers’ meeting, Hiers brought printouts of an email entitled, “Why Gay marriage Should Be Legal,” replete with pictures of lesbian sex.  Hiers passed the emails around the table for men and women–including Jackson–to see.
  • A meeting was scheduled by Karl Schumacher, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, and attended by James P. Gerard, attorney for the Paula Deen Family of Companies.  Its purpose: to address Hiers’ “frequent and outrageous sexual and racial comments.  In this meeting, in… Gerard’s office, Bubba Hiers discussed his interest in Web site pornography.”  He stated to Gerard: “Don’t tell me you don’t do that at night.”
  • In 2007, Deen placed Jackson in charge of food and serving arrangements for the wedding of her brother, Hiers.  Jackson asked Dean what look the wedding should have.  Deen replied: “I want a true Southern plantation-style wedding.  What I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.”  Deen laughed and added: “Now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn’t it?  But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
  • At Uncle Bubba’s Oysterr House restaurant, “African-American staff persons are required to use the back entrance for all purposes, including picking up their checks.  They were prohibited from using the front entrance.”
  • “African-American staff…are required to use one restroom that is in the back of the restaurant and is not the customer restroom.  White staff was allowed to use the customer bathroom.”
  • “African-American staff” who are “stationed at the back of [the] restaurant are not allowed to go to the front.”
  • Jackson hired two black hostesses, whose position “required them to be stationed in the front of the restaurant.  Bubba Hiers complained repeatedly about one hostess being out front and she was later fired for allegedly stealing a white customer’s purse.  The police were called and the young woman was searched, but she was not arrested and no charges were brought.  Mr. Hiers demanded that the other [black] hostess be moved to a position in the back…where she could not be seen by customers.”
  • Jackson was meeting with a vendor in her office at the restaurant when Hiers entered “and slammed the door behind him, stating, ‘I wish I could put all those niggers [in the kitchen] on a boat to Africa.'”
  • “Bubba Hiers confronted a [black] male kitchen staff[er] and repeatedly screamed at him, and physically and violently shook him.”
  • In Jackson’s presence, Hiers said to his black security guard and driver: “Don’t you wish you could rub all the black off you and be like me?”  The guard replied, “I’m fine the way I am.”  Hiers then said: “You just look dirty.  I bet you wish you could.”
  • Hiers stated in Jackson’s presence: “They should send President Obama to the oil spill in the Gulf [of Mexico] so he could nigger-rig it.”
  • In the presence of Jackson and  a vendor who traps wildlife, Hiers said: “You also got a bunch of coons in this kitchen you can trap.”
  • Hiers “told jokes using the word ‘nigger’ in front of the coordinator of a fundraising event at the Bethesda Boys Home.  The coordinator…expressed to Ms. Jackson her discomfort with Mr. Hiers and his language.”
  • During a meeting, Hiers “began beating on his chest and challenging anyone and everyone in the kitchen to fight him.  He screamed so loud that spit was coming out of his mouth, as he said: ‘Come get some.  Come on, you want a piece of me?  Meet me on the dock you mother fuckers.'”
  • After this outburst, Jackson “scanned the room in horror and saw her staff, recognizing the look of fear, disbelief and helplessness” on their faces.  “Mr. Hiers then stumbled out the back foor to his truck and he was gone.”

MORE THAN THE “N-WORD”: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on July 2, 2013 at 12:15 am

Here’s a brief chronology of the downfall of celebrity chef Paula Deen:

On May 17, Deen gave a deposition in a $1.2 million discrimination lawsuit filed against herself and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, by Lisa Jackson, a former General Manager at one of her restaurants.

Earl “Bubba” Hiers and Paula Deen

On June 19, the National Enquirer released details about that deposition.  When asked if she had ever used the word, “nigger,” she replied: “Yes, of course,” as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

She claimed she used it when telling her husband about being held at gunpoint by a black bank robber.  When asked if she had used it since, she replied: “I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.”

On June 20, the full unedited transcript of the deposition was leaked.

Since then, Deen has been caught up in a media frenzy–and the loss of most of her high-priced collaborators:

  • The Food Network
  • QVC’s Home Shopping Network
  • Smithfield Foods–a company specializing in pork products
  • Wal-Mart
  • Ceasars Entertainment
  • Novo Nordisk, a diabetes drug company
  • Sears Holdings Corporation, the owner of Sears and K-Mart
  • Walgreens

And although her latest book, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up, had risen to Number 1 on Amazon.com, its publisher, Ballantine Books, announced that it had decided to cancel its upcoming publication.

The media has focused exclusively on Deen’s use of “nigger.”  In doing so, it has completely ignored even more important aspects of this lawsuit.

Consider the allegations listed in the complaint filed by Lisa Jackson, who spent five years (2005 – 2010) as General Manager for Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, in Savannah, Georgia.

According to the complaint, managers at the restaurant–owned by Deen’s brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers–often engaged in the following practices:

  • Subjecting Jackson to “violent behavior,” which included “racial harassment, assault, battery and other humiliating conduct.”
  • Upon her promotion to General Manager, Hiers told Jackson: “You’re everything I’ve never wanted but everything I need–a woman to clean my business up.”  He advised Jackson to “take it [his comment] as a compliment.”
  • For Jackson’s money-saving efforts, Karl Schumacher, the Chief Financial Officer for Paula Deen Enterprises, referred to her  as “almost Jewish,” and Hiers called Jackson “my little Jew girl.”
  • Paula Deen Enterprises paid for “Uncle Bubba’s restaurant expense to remedy violations of the Occupational Safety and health Act; as well as …to remedy City Health Code violations in Uncle Bubba’s restaurant kitchen.”
  • Hiers several times told Jackson: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my sister [Paula Deen] if it ever comes down to firing a guy or a girl, you let the girl go because they are a dime a dozen and you can always find a girl to come work for you but it’s hard to find good buys.”
  • Jackson often complained to upper management that “she was not paid a salary equal to [that of] her male counterparts.”
  • When she requested a raise in 2007, Schumacher told Jackson that Hiers would not permit a woman to be paid any more than she was already paid: “Bubba Hiers would have a heart attack if he knew you were being paid this much.”
  • When Jackson expressed concerns over compensation, Deen scheduled a meeting.  Pointing at the women managers there, Deen said: “You all need to work together and become one.”  The male managers at the meeting were never addressed.
  • “The male General Manager of the Lady & Sons Restaurant is paid substantially more than…Jackson despite his general incompetence, his performance of fewer duties than…Jackson, and his oppressive sexual and racial harassment of employees.”
  • Jackson “received a bonus, as other managers did, for approximately six months, but bonus payments were withdrawn and taken away by…Schumacher immediately upon her divorce.  This occurred in the context of numerous remarks by…Schumacher regarding his religious views of marriage and the sin of divorce.”
  • Schumacher stated in Jackson’s presence: “Women are stupid because they think they can work and have babies and get everything done.”
  • Jackson was told by Director of Operations Theresa Fueger: “You know the family dynamics in the company.  Certain people are not going anywhere, and if you don’t like it, you can go find another job.”
  • Hiers, Deen’s brother, “is a frequent customer of pornography Web sites and would download and view such sites at work.  In the small office he shared with Ms. Jackson, it was impossible for her to avoid viewing the pornography.”
  • “Alternately, he visited those Websites on the kitchen computer, often forgetting to log out; whereupon other employees involuntarily shared his pornography adventure.”
  • “On more than one occasion, Bubba Hiers requested that Ms. Jackson bring pictures of herself when she was young for him to view.  He told her, ‘You have nice legs’ and that two other employees are ‘ fat girls.'”
  • Schumacher “on multiple occasions, told jokes or ridiculed the President of the United States, using the word ‘nigger.'”

LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEEN: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 28, 2013 at 12:14 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 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.

In the deposition she filed in May, 2013, she proved to be her own worst enemy.  Consider the following:

Speaking of her employee, Karl Schumacher, Deen said:

A.  Karl is the most judgmental person I know.  And out of every team member on our team, he is certainly the most prejudice.

Q.  Prejudice against who?

A.  You name it.

Q.  African-Americans?

A.  Gays, you name it. If you drink, you’re a bad person.  If you use four-letter words, you’re a bad person.  If you don’t think like he thinks, you’re a bad person.

Q.  Is he–?

A.  He is a one-man jury.

Stupid Mistake #16:  She admits that she had retained an employee who was openly prejudiced toward a wide range of people: “Gays, you name it.”

Q.  Is he prejudice against African-Americans?

A.  I–no, I don’t–no, I would say the answer to that one would be no.

Stupid Mistake #17:  Having already admitted the Schumacher was “a one-man jury” and “the most prejudice” of her employees, Deen suddenly claims he isn’t prejudiced against blacks. 

MackWorks, a business consulting firm, conducted an investigation of Uncle Bubba’s, which is owned by her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers.

Q.  Okay.  And in order to determine that it was the opinion of these high-priced consultants that Miss Jackson had been the victim of discrimination sufficient to give her cause to file an EEOC [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] all you would have had to do was read that report, correct?

A.  I didn’t read the report.

Q.  Okay.  And what, if any, investigation have you done to determine if it is your brother who is lying, as opposed to Miss Jackson and Mr. Schumacher and the people at MackWorks?

A.  I know my brother.  I know his character.  If I ask him something, he would not lie to me, nor would I to him.  There was nothing to investigate.

Stupid Mistake #18:  After an independent consulting firm gives her a scathing report about her brother’s restaurant, she doesn’t read it. 

Stupid Mistake #19:  She admits she didn’t read it.

Stupid Mistake #20:  She admits she took no action to discover the truth for herself: “There was nothing to investigate.”

* * * * *

I have not searched through the entire deposition as given by Paula Deen.  But the portion I have reviewed convinces me this was a lawsuit–and a disaster–waiting to happen.

The media has focused its attention on Deen’s admission to having used the “N-word.”  But clearly she was running a dysfunctional operation–replete with alcoholism, racial prejudice, sexual harassment and theft.

Much has been made of Deen’s serving as an ambassador of Southern culture and cooking.  But if only some of the accusations made against her hold up, she must also serve as an ambassador of a South decent Americans want to forget–and forever put behind them.

That was definitely an era when blacks knew their place–which was as slaves in the kitchens or fields of the Southern planter class who owned them.

According to Jackson, those are the days Deen would love to return to.

As proof, she cited an exchange that occurred when she was appointed by Deen to handle the catering and staff for Bubba’s wedding in 2007.

When she asked Deen what the servers should wear, Deen allegedly replied:

“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.

“Now, that would be a true Southern wedding wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

Deen has given lip service to knowing that the days of Southern racism are past.  But according to the complaint filed against her by her former employee, Lisa Jackson, that past remains very much alive:

  • Requiring black employees to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Holding black employees to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Allowing her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, to regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Allowing Hiers to make inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Allowing Hiers to force the plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, to look at pornography with him.
  • Allowing Hiers to often violently shake employees.
  • Allowing Hiersto come to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Enabling Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Holding “racist views herself.”

Many of Deen’s supporters have claimed she is the victim of anti-Southern prejudice.

But the truth appears that only in the South could she have run so gigantic and lucrative an empire for so long in such prejucial and dysfunctional fashion.

The wonder is not that the Food Network refused to renew her contract after June, 2013.  The wonder is that she has managed to stay in business this long.

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.

LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEEN: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 26, 2013 at 12:01 am

The purpose of this website is to highlight the ways public and private bureaucracies actually operate–as opposed to how they usually want others to believe they operate.

Occasionally, a case comes along that is so filled with blatant violations of law and common sense that it offers a road map of what others should do to avoid similar disaster.

Such a case is that of celebrity chef Paula Deen.

Paula Deen

Let’s start at the beginning.

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 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.

Jackson’s complaint describes her as a “white female” who has biracial nieces.

It was for that reason that she left Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, which was run by Hiers, in August, 2010.

Jackson’s complaint alleges the following:

  • Black employees were required to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Black employees were held to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Hiers regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Hiers made inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Hiers forced Jackson to look at pornography with him.
  • Hiers often violently shook employees.
  • Hiers came to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Dean enabled Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Deen “holds racist views herself.”

The allegation that black employees were ordered to use separate bathrooms and entrances harkens back to the ugly days of the pre-civil rights South.  That was an era where most blacks knew their place–or were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

In May, 2013, Deen gave her own deposition in the case.  She denied many of the allegations against Hiers-–but ended up admitting that she was aware of his offensive behaviors:

Q.  Okay.  Are you aware–-you were here during your brother’s deposition, right?

A.  Yes.

Q.  So you are aware of the things that he’s admitted to?

A.  Absolutely.

Q.  Did any of the things that your brother admitted to doing, including reviewing–-reviewing pornography in the workplace, 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?

A.  No.  My brother and I, 25 years ago…each started a business and we each had $200 to start that business.  My brother built the most successful long-service business in Albany, Georgia, with his $200.  My brother is completely capable unless he’s being sabotaged.

Stupid Mistake #1:  Deen acknowledged that, if she hadn’t known about her brother’s behavior prior to his deposition, she was present during this and thus learned about it then.

Stupid Mistake #2:  Deen acknowledged that even after she officially became aware of his behavior, she did not feel there was any reason to sever him from the company.

Getting back to Deen’s deposition:

Q.  Now, does his sense of humor include telling jokes about matters of a sexual nature?

A.  We have all told off-colored jokes.

Q.  Okay.  Does his sense of humor include telling jokes of a racial nature?

A.  I’m sure those kind of jokes have been told.  Every man I’ve ever come in contact with has one.

Stupid Mistake #3:  Deen acknowledged that off-color jokes were told in her workplace, and that she was clearly aware of it.

Stupid Mistake #4:  Deen made light of the telling of jokes that the vast majority of employers would not tolerate in their workplaces.

Then came–for Deen–the most deadly part of the deposition:

Q.  Okay.  Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?

A.  No, not racial.

Q.  Okay, have you ever used the N word yourself?

A.  Yes, of course.

Stupid Mistake #5:  She knew that the charge of racial discrimination stood at the very heart of the lawsuit facing her.  Yet, when asked if she had ever used the N-word, she replied, “Yes, of course,” as if this were the most natural thing in the world.

Q.  Okay.  In what context?

A.  Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.

Q. Okay, and what did you say?

A.  Well, I don’t remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple.  I didn’t…feel real favorable towards him.

Q.  Okay.  Well, did you use the N word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?

A.  Absolutely not.

Q.  Well, then, when did you use it?

A.  Probably in telling my husband.

Stupid Mistake #6:  What is discussed between husband and wife is protected legally as marital privilege.  Her attorney should have objected and told her not to answer the question.  If she had not admitted to using it privately with her husband, she might not have been asked if she had used it since then.

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