Walmart Drops Paula Deen: Embattled Chef Loses Another Brand
Embattled TV chef Paula Deen has lost yet another corporate deal in the wake of revelations regarding her use of racial slurs. The retail giant announced today that it would not be ordering any more of Deen’s branded merchandise beyond orders that have already been placed. Once the merchandise that Walmart has already committed to is sold, they will not be ordering more.
This announcement follows closely on the heels of announcements by numerous other companies who are practically stampeding away from Deen in the last few days. Food Network announced that it was dropping her show and severing all ties with Deen, while Target has made an announcement similar to Walmart’s. Earlier today, we reported that diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk had “suspended” its partnership with Deen. Earlier this week Smithfield Foods announced they were dropping her as well.
Deen’s career tailspin started late last week when a discrimination lawsuit was filed against her by a former employee. The suit was brought by Lisa Jackson, a former employee at Paula’s Oyster House in Georgia. Jackson alleged that Deen and her brother Bubba had repeatedly used racial slurs in the Jackson’s presence and had behaved in a discriminatory fashion.
While the suit in itself might not have been terrible for Deen’s career, the deposition she gave has proven to be the major problem. When asked during the deposition whether she had ever used the N-word, Deen (who was born in Georgia in 1947), replied “Of course.” She went on to clarify that the one instance she remembered was in relation to the robbery of a bank where she worked as a teller in the 1980s, and deny that she had ever used the word with any regularity.
After companies started cutting ties with Deen she made an appearance on The Today Show, where she discussed the situation with Matt Lauer. Unfortunately for Deen many – including, apparently, some of her sponsors and retail partners – felt that her performance on the show was not sufficient to undo the damage to her brand.