Paula Deen's Cook Speaks Out

Jul 26 2013, 6:47am CDT | by ABC News Radio

Paula Deen's Cook Speaks Out
Photo Credit: ABC News Radio

Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Paula Deen's longtime cook, Dora Charles, is speaking out against the former Food Network star, accusing her of treating her unfairly and failing to live up to her promises.

In an interview with The New York Times, Charles recalls, "She said, 'Stick with me.  One day if I get rich, you get rich,'" but it "just passed me by."

Charles worked with Deen for more than two decades and spent years earning less than $10 an hour even after Deen landed a show on the Food Network.  The 59-year-old Charles helped open Deen's Lady & Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga.

When asked if she thought Deen was a racist, Charles who is African-American, replied, "I do.  I do."

Charles tells the Times she's heard Deen repeatedly use the n-word in her restaurants and recalls an incident when Deen wanted her to ring a dinner bell outside the restaurant and holler for people to come and get it.

"I said, 'I'm not ringing no bell.'  That's a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day," said Charles.

According to the Times, Deen hired a woman named Ineata Jones and she agreed to ring an iron dinner bell.  Charles tells the Times Deen also wanted Jones to dress up in an old Aunt Jermima outfit, but "[Jones] didn't want to do that."

Commenting on why she's speaking out now about her boss, Charles says, “It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me."

“I’m not trying to portray that she is a bad person,” she added.  “I’m just trying to put my story out there that she didn’t treat me fairly and I was her soul sister.”

Deen's camp denies the allegations, telling the Times, "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 even more financial support from Paula Deen."  Deen's reps also state she never asked anyone to dress like Aunt Jermima.

In Deen's 2007 memoir, she writes, “If I lost Dora, I would have been devastated."  Reportedly, the two no longer speak.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Deen. She admitted under oath to using a racial slur in the past, which came to light after a former employee at one of her restaurants filed a lawsuit claiming racial and sexual harassment by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier.  Afterward, The Food Network, WalMart, QVC and others cut ties to the celebrity chef and author.  However, the North Carolina-based company that markets Deen's furniture line, Universal Furniture International, said this week it is standing by the chef, according to High Point Enterprise./>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>/>

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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