Paula Deen, the Emmy Award-winning television personality known for her Southern charm and fattening food, is in hot water after admitting to using racial slurs in a court deposition last month
The 66-year-old Deen is being sued for $1.2 million by the former general manager of her Savannah, Ga., restaurant
, Lisa Jackson, the New York Daily News reported.
The 2012 lawsuit claims that Deen used the N-word at the eatery and her brother, Bubba Hiers, allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted employees.
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When asked if she had ever used the N-word, Deen acknowledged using the derogatory term in the three-hour deposition she gave on May 17, saying, "Yes, of course."
When asked by the plaintiff's attorney in what context she might use the racial epithet, Deen recalled an instance in the 1980s when working as a bank teller when her branch was robbed.
"Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head," she said.
Deen added at a later point in the testimony that "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. As well as I do."
Making matters worse, the Daily News notes that the National Enquirer reported that in 2007, Deen had considered decorating her brother's wedding with a "slave motif" with black servants wearing "long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and black bow ties. You know, in the Shirley Temple days."
In her deposition, Deen claimed that neither she nor her brother have any prejudices against minorities.
"Bubby and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is," she said. "It’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us."
Jackson's attorney proceeded to ask Deen if she considered jokes that used the N-word to be mean.
"That's kind of hard," Deen replied in her testimony. "Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks ... They usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don't know — I just don't know what to say. I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."
In response to Deen's testimony her attorney, Bill Franklin, issued a statement to the Daily News writing, "Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court."
In addition to her television cooking show on the Food Network, Deen has recently released her own line of spreads at Wal-Mart.
Twitter uses were quick to react to the controversy.
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