And things were going so well, too. Just as the Paula Deen debacle was starting to fade from our national consciousness, Deen's longtime friend and former "soul sister" Dora Charles opened up to The New York Times about how awful her butter-loving BFF is. “It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me,” Charles told the Times. Charles worked with Deen for 22 years, training employees, creating recipes and running quality control at Lady & Sons, Deen's flagship restaurant. While the two appeared to be close—they celebrated birthdays together, and Deen wrote “[i]f I lost Dora, I would have been devastated” in her 2007 memoir—Charles claims that there was racial discrimination and harassment at Paula Deen's company.
Charles stirred the pot with a few new allegations against Deen:
- Even after Paula Deen became a Food Network star, she paid Charles less than $10 per hour for several years. According to Lisa T. Jackson, the litigant from the lawsuit that started this all, Charles was being paid less than white employees with less seniority.
- Deen asked one of her employees, Ineata "Jellyroll" Jones, to dress up in an old-style Aunt Jemima costume
- Charles also claims that Deen referred to her and other employees with a "racially offensive term for a black child." The Times doesn't get more specific than that, except to say Deen denied using the term.
- She also asked Charles "ring a dinner bell in front of the restaurant, hollering for people to come and get it." Charles refused: “That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day.”