is calling BS on a former chef who claims Deen made an African-American employee dress up like Aunt Jemima ... claiming the chef is crying racism in a pathetic money grab.
The woman behind the allegations is Dora Charles
-- who ran Deen's kitchens for 22 years and helped open Paula's famous Lady & Sons restaurant in Georgia.
Charles spoke with the New York Times -- and claimed Deen wouldn't just use racial slurs in the kitchens, but wanted to dress up her employees as humiliating stereotypes.
Among the allegations, Charles says Deen tried to make her ring a dinner bell for restaurant customers ... something Charles felt was racially charged.
"That's a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day," Charles said.
Charles also claims Deen tried to make another black female employee, Ineata Jones
, dress up in an "old style Aunt Jemima outfit" while flipping hoecakes at a dining station.
But Deen says ... she's not only confident Charles is making the whole thing up -- but claims on July 6, Jones signed a legal document saying she had never felt discriminated against and never heard Deen spout racial slurs during her employment.
Charles has not filed a lawsuit, but claims she wants to get her story out so everyone will know the real
Deen's camp fired back in a statement saying, "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 yet even more financial support from Paula Deen."
Of course, Deen has previously admitted that she used the N-word ... but insists she never directed the slur at any of her employees.