ATLANTA -- A few days after the Food Network chose not to renew Paula Deen's contract over a racial slur she used in the past, a civil and human rights organization is now saying her companies continue to discriminate against minorities.
Robert Patillo, a lawyer for Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition, said he learned of troubling practices in the companies before this week's media firestorm.
"The 'n word' is the smallest portion of this," Patillo said. "It's the manifestation of those personal prejudices into employment policies that have worked to injure individuals."
Patillo traveled to Savannah Thursday to speak with five current and former Deen employees. He plans to continue the investigation next weekend.
Patillo said so far 13 employees from Deen's companies have come forward. They said blacks were held back from promotions, and racist and sexist jokes were tolerated. One restaurant manager allegedly called an employee a monkey.
"We often find there is one side, another side, and then the truth is somewhere in between," Patillo said. "We'll gather information and we'll issue the information we gather once it's completed."
Deen has repeatedly apologized for using a racial slur in the past. She admitted to using the word during a deposition related to her brother's racial discrimination lawsuit. Her company has not responded to the allegations levied by Rainbow/PUSH.
A Facebook page supporting her has received 225,000 "likes" in the last two days.