Paula Deen is using an unusual legal argument to hit back at an ex-employee who's suing her for discrimination.
Lawyers for the embattled celebrity chef are citing the Supreme Court's June 26 decision striking down California's Prop 8, which originally banned gay marriage in that state, as a reason a court should dismiss Lisa's Jackson's federal lawsuit against her and her brother Earl "Bubba" Hiers.
Jackson, a former restaurant worker at the duo's Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, filed a racial harassment complaint last year alleging Deen and Hiers subjected her to racial harassment and a hostile work environment by, among other things, making racist remarks about the restaurant's African-American employees.
When word surfaced two weeks ago that Deen had admitted in a May deposition in the case that she had used the N-word and told jokes perceived as racist, the Food Network decided not to renew her contract and a slew of the famed cook's sponsors dumped her, causing the collapse of her multimillion-dollar business empire.
Deen's legal eagles have subsequently been hitting back hard against Jackson, charging in a brief that one of the plaintiff's core claims—that she was personally offended by Paula's utterance of the racial slur since she had biracial nieces—was a lie. They cited evidence that Jackson's nieces are actually those of her partner's and that the girls are Hispanic, not African-American.
Deen originally filed her motion to dismiss on Dec. 18, 2012, but filed this supplemental brief on Monday in a U.S. District Court in Georgia in light of the Supreme Court's historic ruling.
Deen's attorneys noted the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts on the Hollingsworth vs. Perry Prop 8 case, where he wrote that in order for a person to have standing to sue, they must prove they have "suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct."
The TV personality's camp interpreted that to mean that "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."
In Deen's view, given the fact that Jackson is white, she doesn't have standing to bring the case because she herself didn't suffer personally from race discrimination.
No word when the court will rule on the motion.
Lawyers for Deen and Jackson were unavailable for comment.