The fallout from Paula Deen's racial slur controversy continues as QVC President and CEO Mike George announced in a letter to customers on Thursday, June 27, that the company has decided to "take a pause" from their partnership with Deen.
Deen and her brother are currently involved in a $1.2 million racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit, which was filed by a former employee of their Savannah, Georgia restaurant. During a court deposition, Deen admitted to using the N-word at least once 27 years ago after a bank robbery.
Previously, QVC said in a statement that they were "reviewing" their business relationship with Deen. In the new letter, which was posted on the company's blog, George acknowledged that the company has received feedback from customers who defended Deen and those who were outraged by her past use of the racial slur.
"Your spirited conversation reflects the complexity of the issues raised and the deep feelings surrounding them," George explained.
He said the company was "troubled by what Paula has acknowledged saying," but he later added, "At the same time, we have enjoyed a positive, long-standing relationship with Paula. She has always been gracious and supportive to every QVC team member she encountered."
"We have talked with Paula and her team extensively over the last several days, and together we have considered what is best for our customers, for Paula, and for QVC. For now, we have decided to take a pause," George said. "Paula won't be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months. We all think it's important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward."
"Some of you may wonder whether this is a 'forever' decision -- whether we are simply ending our association with Paula. We don't think that's how relationships work," he added. "People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing."
Deen also wrote a letter to QVC customers, which was featured in the blog post. Deen's letter can be read in its entirety below:
- To my customers at QVC,
I want to let you know how much I value my relationship with all of you and with QVC. I've loved hearing from all of you over the years, with your calls and posts and letters. I've so enjoyed my close relationship with David Venable and his team, and my warm interactions with the extended QVC family. I also appreciate the caring way that QVC has interacted with me over the past week.
As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally. And so we've agreed that it's best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right.
I am truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness.
QVC is just the latest company to pull back or part ways with Deen. See a full list of those companies here.