Dora Charles, an African-American cook who helped Paula Deen open her Lady & Sons restaurant over 20 years ago, is claiming that her boss told black employees to “dress in an old-style Aunt Jemima outfit” and ring a dinner bell.
“She said, ‘Stick with me, one day if I get rich, you’ll get rich,’” Charles told the New York Times (video below).
"It just passed me by. You know, I’m not going to run behind her and say, ‘You promised me, you promised me. Where my half? Where my part?’ You know? It wasn’t all about that. Actually, all I was looking for was a good salary.”
Charles also says she was being paid $6.50 an hour when Deen started her Food Network show.
“I told her, at times, I didn’t even have enough money to buy my own medications. She was sitting across the table and she said, ‘Here’s a hundred dollars, go buy your medicine,’” added Charles.
When asked about Deen requesting waiters to dress like slaves for a Southern-style wedding, Charles responded: “Yeah, she wanted [Employee Ineata Jones] ‘Jellyroll’ to dress like that as well."
Deen also made Jones (pictured below) and Charles stand in front of the restaurant and ring a dinner bell, says Charles, which ended up on postcards sold at Paula Deen's stores.
“Jellyroll didn’t want to hear that,” Charles recalled. “She didn’t want to do that. I said, ‘I’m not ringing no bell. That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day.”
Charles also claims that Deen wanted Jones and Charles to dress in Aunt Jemima outfits when they made cornmeal pancakes in a part of the restaurant where customers could watch them.
The cook told the New York Times that she feels Deen is a racist and added: “I’ve heard her used the n-word. She say, ‘I tell all y’all n*****s, that’s what’s wrong with y’all n*****s now today.’”
Deen replied to the claims through her PR rep, who said: “Fundamentally Dora’s complaint is not about race, but about money. It is about an employee that despite over 20 years of generosity feels that she still deserves yet even more financial support from Paula Deen [who has] provided guidance and support through the many ups and downs of Mrs. Charles’ life.”
Source: New York Times