She's helping others change their lives as well. A federal judge has thrown out race discrimination claims against the celebrity chef, in a lawsuit that's cost her so much of her culinary empire. Is... See More
She's helping others change their lives as well. A federal judge has thrown out race discrimination claims against the celebrity chef, in a lawsuit that's cost her so much of her culinary empire. Is this a victory for deen? Rebecca jarvis is here with the latest. Reporter: That's the question this morning. A dramatic turn of events. A legal victory for paula deen. But in the court of public opinion, the decision may have come two months too late. This morning, the disgraced queen of southern cuisine, escaped one boiling pot of legal hot water. Monday's ruling by a federal judge puts an end to the most damaging claim against the tv star, that she had discriminated against employees based on their race. An accusation that toppled her cooking kingdom and ruined her reputation. Her first mistake was letting a million-dollar lawsuit crash a $20 million a year empire. It doesn't matter if you're right and they're wrong. It's a business decision. And you settle it. And you make it go away. Reporter: Deen's former restaurant manager, lisa jackson, a white woman with biracial nieces, sued deen, claiming she was offended by deen's alleged discrimination against black workers in restaurant. Jackson's lawyers deposed her, asking have you ever used the "n" word yourself? Deen replied, yes, ovk. But only in the past. When her words leaked. Her empire crumbled. Please, forgive me, for the mistakes I've made. The food network dropped her show. And a chain of retailers cut ties. But the judge's ruling stated jackson had not proven her claim. Saying she was, at best, quote, an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination. This morning, many wonder if it's all too little too late. It falls apart in minutes. It can take years to rebuild. This is not a moment when the sponsors go, we wipe the splat clean, we're back. Reporter: Deen's publicist tells abc news, the star is pleased with the ruling. And deen is confident that those who truly know she lives her life, she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone. The ruling claims that deen's brother sexually harassed her. The judge could rule on requests from deen's lawyers to dismiss those claims, as well. We want to bring in abc's chief legal affairs anchor, dan abrams. What do you think about the judge's decision? You're talking about a white plaintiff. You can win. If she was able to demonstrate she wasn't able to work with her african-american colleagues, for example, based on this racism, that could be a legitimate claim. But the court saying there's no indication that that was the case in this particular lawsuit. And throwing it out. Keeping the sexual harassment claim alive. The judge saying at one point, that jackson is, at best, an accidental victim. So, is this any kind of victory at all for paula deen? It's a legal victory for paula deen. But what the judge is saying, even if everything in here is true, it's still not a valid racial discrimination case. That doesn't help paula deen. In terms of court of public opinion, this court is not saying none of this is true. All the court is saying, even if it is true, there's not a valid race case here. And it's not over yet. That's right. The judge still keeping open the possibility of the sexual harassment claim. That's different because she's saying, that happened to her. Right. As opposed to how she felt about things happening to other people. I believe the judge was saying, federal courts are not human resources departments. Right. Dan, thank you so much. To be continued on this one.
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