Rainbow Push Coalition investigates discrimination claims - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Rainbow Push Coalition investigates Paula Deen discrimination claims

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The Rainbow Push Coalition launched their investigation into Paula Deen Enterprises two weeks ago, following allegations of discrimination at Deen's restaurants Lady and Sons and Uncle Bubba's Oyster Bar.

"After speaking with over a dozen employees we have found both good and bad statements from employees on record," said Robert Patillo, with the Rainbow Coalition.

Patillo said, during their investigation, many employees complemented Deen for creating a positive working environment, high compensation, and opportunity for job growth.

"However, more employees have come to us with complaints about racial remarks being made towards them, the failure to promote African-Americans and female employees. And also a general environment of racial tension and a feeling that all caucasian employees were treated better than them because of their race," said Patillo.

Though the possible use of the n-word sparked their investigation, the coalition said that was not the basis of their investigation. They were looking for patterns and practices of employment discrimination.

"Some of what we found was, frankly, an organization that grew faster than It's administrative ability to keep up," said Janice Mathis. "Had there been a fully functioning HR department, which didn't occur until two years ago, none of these things would have happened."

The coalition has issued a report with recommendations for Deen Enterprises, which includes continuing education for employees, and changes to the Human Resource department.

Deen Enterprises released a statement Saturday, saying: "Paula Deen Enterprises is currently reviewing all companies' policies and practices with a team of outside experts to ensure that they reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion."

The coalition expects to see a plan from Deen's company within the next few days, detailing how they will address and correct the allegations.

Once changes are made, the Coalition said Deen will start to gain her sponsors back. 

Copyright 2013 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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