Paula Deen, brother are targets of a sexual harassment lawsuit

In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo, celebrity chef Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. Deen recently announced that she has Type 2 diabetes.
AP Photo/Carlo Allegri
In this Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York. Deen recently announced that she has Type 2 diabetes.
AP Photo

(CBS/AP) SAVANNAH, Ga. - Paula Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, have been slapped with a lawsuit by a former restaurant general manager, who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment, assault, battery and emotional distress, as well as well as a hostile work environment filled with racial slurs.

Lisa Jackson, who worked at Deen and Hiers' Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga., filed the suit on Monday, saying her doctor encouraged her to leave the celebrity chef's restaurant because she suffered from panic attacks and faced intolerable work conditions.

Jackson said in the lawsuit that Hiers routinely made inappropriate sexual and racial remarks and that she heard both Hiers and Deen use racial slurs. She also said in the lawsuit she saw Hiers violently shake a black employee and that he fostered an environment of intimidation.

Jackson, who is white, was hired at the restaurant in February 2005 and within months was promoted to general manager with a mandate from Deen to turn it into a success.

Hiers soon began targeting her with unwanted advances, she said, and he watched pornography in the small office the two shared. He also distributed pictures of two women having sex at an office meeting and complained about heavier staff members, the complaint said.

She said Hiers made racially insensitive remarks and that his restaurant required black staff members to use the back entrance and banned them from using a customer restroom that white staffers were allowed to use.

Jackson said she routinely suffered from panic attacks that often began when Hiers came to work each morning. The situation came to a head in August 2010 when Jackson said Hiers grabbed her face during a dinner for vendors at the restaurant and declared "I love you," then later screamed at her and spit in her face.

Deen's lawyer, Greg Hodges, a partner at the Oliver Maner law firm in Savannah, Ga., told the Daily Report that Jackson's allegations are false, adding, "We look forward to our day in court."

Jackson is seeking unspecified damages, noting she "continues to endure immense pain and has suffered greatly at the hands of Defendants' outrageous and intolerable conduct."

Deen also made news earlier  this year when she  revealed she has had Type 2 diabetes for  several years.