Former Georgia GOP Staffer Files Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

 Qiana Keith says a colleague called her a "house n----r."

Posted: 07/10/2014 02:11 PM EDT
Former Georgia GOP Staffer Files Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Qiana Keith apparently experienced little growth or opportunity during her tenure as an executive assistant to Georgia GOP chairman John Padgett. She filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that party officials discriminated against her because of her race and that she heard a colleague refer to her as "the house n----r," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

When she started working for the Georgia Republican Party in June 2013, Keith received positive feedback about her performance, but "it soon became clear that [her] race set her apart from her co-workers, and she was treated differently throughout her employment," the suit filed in federal court claims.

It also alleges that Margaret Poteet, the party's finance director, would not allow her to perform any duties for the annual chairman's dinner other than clean-up, that she was chided by her supervisor, Adam Pipkin, for "seating a Black member of the Republican Party at the head table with the chairman" and that she was asked to pose as a waiter at another event.

Keith says that when she overheard Poteet complaining about her, accounting director Karen Hentschel said, "Don't worry about her; she is just the house n----r."

In another conversation between Hentschel and Poteet about Keith having her wages garnished to pay restitution to the state of Montana, where Keith previously lived, Poteet was allegedly heard saying, "I didn't even know there were Black people in Montana," which Keith said left her feeling both humiliated and furious.

Keith, who was fired on March 31, also claims that Pipken suggested that she had "misunderstood" perceived slights and that the party never investigated her complaints.

In a statement to the AJC, Anne Lewis, general counsel to the Georgia Republican Party, said that Keith had been "terminated for consistently poor job performance" and that when she made her claims of race discrimination through an attorney more than two months later, the party "immediately undertook a full investigation of those claims and found that there was no merit to any of them."

Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

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(Photo: Qiana Keith via Facebook)

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