Paula Deen, Al Sharpton

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images; Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Rev. Al Sharpton isn't putting Paula Deen's past against her, and he suggests you do the same.

The civil rights activist spoke out about the controversy revolving around the Southern chef and has actually come to her defense, following her admission to using the N-word in a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by a former employee.

"A lot of us have in the past said things we have regretted saying years ago," he told TMZ.

"I think she has a lawsuit now about activities now whether it was discriminatory. And whether or not she's engaged in things now. It's not about her past...She deserves what's fair, but that's based on what she's engaged in now."

Sharpton also added, "You cannot deal with what is fair or not fair until we see an outcome of the present circumstances she is accused of, not something that happened 20 years ago."

However, some of Deen's now-former employers don't seem to be as empathetic.

The 66-year-old was dropped from the Food Network and, most recently, Smithfield Foods, a company specializing in pork products, with which Deen had a line of hams. Meanwhile, QVC has announced that they're "reviewing their business relationship" with the chef and has "no immediate plans to have her appear" on the network.

On Friday, Deen issued a video apology after admitting to using the derogatory slur in a deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by a former employee.

She's expected to address the controversy on the Today show Wednesday after canceling her appearance on the program last week.

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