Would You Have Fired Paula Deen?

Posted on June 25, 2013.

Do you know someone who’s been fired? I don’t mean laid off or downsized out, but really fired? If you have, it’s likely they didn’t have to face the scrutiny that both Paula Deen and the Food Network have recently faced. If the Food Network had anticipated the sheer volume of negative feedback they’ve received, do you think they would have still fired Deen?

If you do know someone who’s been on the other end of the axe, unless you were personally involved, you likely don’t know exactly what happened.  Usually, both parties are bound by confidentiality agreements. And that’s the problem I have with the public tirade over Deen’s dismissal.  Do we really know the whole story?

People have already forgotten that the information surrounding her past racial slurs came out as part of a deposition filed just a year ago by a “former employee who managed Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, a Savannah restaurant owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The ex-employee, Lisa Jackson, says she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.”  Do you know for certain that she didn’t help contribute to a biased or hostile work environment? I don’t.

We may never know why the Food Network took such a dramatic step. It might be all about money with sponsors threatening to pull out. Or was there more evidence that demonstrated more than a few transgressions?  I’m reserving my own judgment and have refused to second-guess the decision because of my own experience.

I worked with 2 amazing people (or so I thought) they seemed like strong leaders who really knew their business.  I knew they were fired, but it was many years later I found out why. One had a drug addiction that drove him to falsify expense reports. One began sexually harassing his employee through emails, letters and phone calls (he was married with children by the way).  Both were leaders and managers.  I was shocked.

So while I really like Paula Deen and her show (who doesn’t like comfort food?), I won’t join the online tirade until I know all the facts.  And when someone you work with makes a hasty exit, find out what really happened before you rush to judgment.