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Gainesville woman alleges racial slurs in GOP suit

Republican Party says termination was over job performance

POSTED: July 11, 2014 12:32 a.m.

A Gainesville woman’s federal lawsuit filed Tuesday describes in detail a series of racially charged incidents and overheard slurs at the Georgia Republican Party that she alleges went unaddressed.

By Feb. 3, Qiana Keith “had had enough of the treatment she received in the office and her supervisor’s failure to intervene on her behalf,” the suit states. “Ms. Keith was repeatedly treated differently and put in demeaning situations by her co-workers.”

Keith, who was fired from her job as executive assistant to the chairman of the Georgia GOP, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

She said she was fired March 31 after complaining to her boss. She seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees as well as job reinstatement.

Initially, Keith, who is black, “worked well with her co-workers and received commendations on her work performance,” the lawsuit states. “However, it soon became clear that Ms. Keith’s race set her apart from her co-workers and she was treated differently throughout her employment.”

The lawsuit described one dispute over parking spaces that led to her being told “to park in the last available spot at the end of all of the spaces.”

In another incident, Keith said she went to an event at the Augusta Country Club, “where, yet again, there were no tasks assigned to her” and a party official “asked her why she even showed up at the event.”

“Ms. Keith was again humiliated, as she had driven from Gainesville to Augusta to attend the event with her husband,” the suit alleges.

The Georgia GOP’s lawyer, Anne Lewis, said in a statement Wednesday that Keith was terminated for “consistently poor job performance” and that an internal investigation found no merit to her claims.

Keith declined to comment on the suit and referred inquiries to her attorney, Kimberly Worth, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Throughout the duration of her employment at the party, (she) never received any disciplinary action or formal write-ups for her alleged performance-related issues,” the suit states.

Keith describes herself as a supporter of the Republican Party and an active volunteer.

She has been active in Gainesville community work in the past. She was featured in previous Times articles during her time as executive director of the Genesis Council, a project of The Newtown Florist Club.

Keith said in the suit she also worked “as an unpaid intern for a Republican radio personality.”

Martha Zoller, a local radio personality and former congressional candidate, said Keith worked for her as an intern and also helped in her congressional campaign.

Keith did clerical work but also helped with campaign events, including occasionally serving as Zoller’s driver.

“She did good work,” Zoller said, adding she recommended Keith for the GOP position.

“I think other people (recommended her) and that’s why they probably ultimately hired her,” she said.

Zoller said “it appeared to me everything was fine” in Keith’s GOP job, “but I didn’t have discussions with anybody about job performance. That wouldn’t have been my place to do that.”


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