Last week, I really got my hopes up that something legally interesting would come out of the Paula Deen fiasco. Deen is being sued by a white lady, Lisa Jackson, for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. That lawsuit led to Deen’s disastrous deposition, which so far has cost Deen her show and sponsors.
After the deposition, which her lawyers foolishly allowed her to give, Deen’s lawyers moved to have the case dismissed for lack of standing. They’re arguing that Jackson has no standing to claim racial discrimination because Jackson is white and Deen allegedly said horrible things only about non-whites.
That’s the kind of interesting legal argument one might make before a damaging deposition wrecks your client’s reputation.
And that might be why Deen’s former lawyers will no longer have the opportunity to make it…
Deen has dumped her former lawyers and retained Grace Speights of Morgan Lewis & Bockius. For those who are concerned with petty things like “optics,” Speights is a black woman. See. Deen’s not racist, she’s hired a black person! From USAToday:
Deen announced last week she had cut ties with her longtime agent who helped make her a Food Network star and start a media and merchandising empire that has largely collapsed.
Grace Speights, an attorney for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, has been retained as the new lead counsel for Paula Deen Enterprises Inc. and other defendants in an employment discrimination lawsuit, according to Jennifer Costa, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based firm.
Again, wasn’t this the right move all along? You’re a famous white Southerner accused of employment discrimination, don’t you go get the best employment lawyer you can find? Bonus points if that lawyer is a person of color because… OPTICS?
Honestly, one of the reasons I think Deen is a racist is because she seemingly didn’t realize this lawsuit was potentially a big deal until after it rolled all over her career. She doesn’t even seem to get it now. Look at her getting trolled by black people on Twitter.
I don’t know if Speights is going to continue Deen’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Lisa Jackson is too white to be put into a hostile work environment. But I hope she just gives Deen some better counsel, as in “advice.” Like, maybe Deen can turn this into a reality show where she’s the cook for a black family and “learns about black people” in the process? She needs a second act now.